Nagaland faced with rising Diabetes cases

Changing lifestyles and inactivity among Nagas, a major factor in prevalence of the dreaded blood sugar disease


Vibi Yhokha
Dimapur | November 13


Sounding alarm on the rising rate of diabetes in Nagaland, on the eve of World Diabetes Day, medical practitioners here said “changing lifestyle” and “inactive lifestyle” were the two major factors leading to its increase.


Dr S Neiphrezo, a junior specialist (diabetologist) revealed he receives at least two diabetic cases every day at Naga Hospital Authority Kohima (NHAK). The patients are not just confined to urban areas like Kohima. There are also cases emerging even from rural areas, the diabetologist stated.
Worldwide, there has been a worrying increase in the number of diabetic diagnosis. According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), by 2040 over 640 million people may be living with diabetes which means 1 out of every 10 person in the world will be suffering from diabetes.


At present 415 million people suffers from diabetes. An IDF statistics further shows that every 6 seconds, a person dies from diabetes. And 1 in 7 births is affected by gestational diabetes.


And Nagaland is not far in joining the increasing world’s diabetes population.
Dr Sao Tunyi, Epidemiologist, State NCD cell, Department of Health and Family Welfare observed that a major factor for the prevalence of diabetes in Nagaland is the changing lifestyles.


“The change in lifestyles especially food habits where Nagas are increasingly turning their appetite on fast foods and processed foods are major factors to the prevalence of diabetes,” Dr Tunyi said.


At home, most Nagas today indulge in processed food, while outside, the increasing number of fast food chains have added to lifestyle changes among Nagas, he added.


Incidentally, the staple food of Nagas which is rice and meat – particularly pork (which has the highest content of fats) are risky aspects and further aggravates the situation, stated Dr Neiphrezo.


The second factor- inactive lifestyle- is trending rapidly among Nagas especially the younger generation involved in “sitting more, less of walking, more of travelling in vehicles”.


The shift of occupation from agriculture to other modern profession such as service and business sectors which requires less of physical activity is a major determinant of inactive lifestyle, said Dr Tunyi.


“We are almost reaching the point where children may also start getting diabetes due to obesity.” Dr Neiphrezo warned. He pointed to the lack of physical activity among Naga children who would rather sit on the chair all day long immersed in indoor activities such as computer, video games etc.  Adding to it is the growth of obesity among Naga children, he added.


Lack of proper data/statistics is also not helping in keeping a tap on the rising diabetes scenario in Nagaland.  “We are very poor in statistics and till date…there is not a single data on diabetes in Nagaland,” Dr Neiphrezo rued.


This year, in a start, the Department of Health and Family Welfare visited various government offices and screened 449 employees during the month of September.


At the screening, the department found 28.74 % suspected diabetes, 4 % confirmed diabetes, 29 % hypertension cases, 23.86 % overweight and 22.22 % as obese cases.  “This percentage is really high. It is a risk factor for the future,” Dr Tunyi commented.


A control program on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) is also currently underway with the health department undertaking surveys and researches of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cancer etc in Nagaland.


Focus on lifestyle management
To prevent and control diabetes, Dr Neiphrezo said one need to focus on lifestyle management.  “What you eat, how much you eat and when you eat is important for lifestyle management,” the diabetologist explained adding that monitoring one’s weight is an important aspect in checking and controlling diabetes.


Apart from keeping a healthy diet, Dr Sao Tunyi urged parents to encourage children to develop a healthy diet and increase physical exercise.


A healthy diet to prevent diabetes requires the intake of whole grain food, vegetables and fish, limit intake of red meat and avoidance of sugary drinks. Increasing one’s physical activity and losing weight are other important prevention measures.