Two health studies have hogged international limelight this past week and the first of these has come as a shocker for India. This largest epidemiological study ever on the prevalence of non communicable diseases (NCDs), also called lifestyle diseases, found some explosive material that is sure to send shockwaves across the nation. But before that, a few words about this study’s credentials.
This 12 year long population study from 2008 to 2020 surveyed 1,13,000 people across India and was conducted by the noted research body Madras Diabetes Research Foundation (MDRF) in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). It was funded by India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, and was published recently in the renowned medical journal ‘The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology’.
While there were many eye openers in this study, two findings are of particular importance. One being that by 2021, there were 101 million people with diabetes in India, 136 million with prediabetes, and 315 million with hypertension or high blood pressure. In percentage terms, this translates to 11.4% with diabetes, 15.3% with prediabetes and 35.5% with high BP.
The study’s findings on the rising prevalence of obesity were even more alarming. It was found that by 2021, 254 million people in India had developed generalised obesity, and 351 million had developed abdominal obesity. Again, in percentage terms, these figures are at 28.6% and 39.5% of the Indian population, respectively.
The second major finding from this study was that in 2017 the prevalence of diabetes in India was high but only around 7.5%, which means that there has been an increase of over 50% in the burden since then. A 50% growth within 4 years in a killer disease like diabetes should ring alarm bells among consumers and the medical community. What this really proves is that almost all the usually advocated generic preventive measures are failing big in stopping the growth of diabetes in India.
It is high time that India as a nation start thinking about why this is so. It is a well documented fact that type 2 diabetes risk runs high in South Asians, and this is attributed partly to genetic reasons and partly to lifestyle factors like faulty diets, sedentary life and high stress levels. The only way out from this high risk situation is popularising genetic testing based on which personalised lifestyle modifications can be prescribed that can keep the development of type 2 diabetes at bay.
Such genetics based risk assessment and personalised lifestyle management can be perfected by including a detailed metabolic assessment by way of blood biomarkers too. This will eliminate many false positives and will include certain risks that may otherwise go undetected. Vieroots Wellness Solutions, a Bangalore based health-tech startup was the first company in India and one of the first companies in the world to pioneer such a combined geno-metabolic approach to test for lifestyle diseases.
Vieroots EPLIMO, as this geno-metabolic program is called, received a shot in its arm this week, as another major study found that combining genetic information and blood biomarkers yielded more accurate results for predicting nine common lifestyle disease risks more than a decade before the disease actually develops. This study was presented in the Annual Conference of the European Society of Human Genetics on Saturday, June 10.
Conducted by Nightingale Health, a preventative health company based in Helsinki, Finland, the study used one of the largest datasets ever spanning 500,000 participants in the UK & Estonian Biobanks. Over 200 blood biomarkers were included along with genomic information, and this combined approach was found multi-times more effective in bettering the predictive accuracy in nine diseases including ischaemic heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Alzheimer’s and other dementias, depression, liver disease, and colon cancer.
Vieroots EPLIMO has been embraced by several forward-thinking superspeciality hospitals, and hundreds of discerning clinics and doctors across India. EPLIMO is also available directly from Vieroots, as well as from Viehubs, which are unique experiential touchpoints that are coming up in various parts of the country.
Interestingly, some of the initial VieHubs have been in Kerala & Punjab, which are two states along with Goa & Puducherry that are seeing the highest prevalence of diabetes and hypertension, way above the national averages as per the ICMR-Lancet study. Kerala has a diabetes prevalence of 25.5% and Punjab has a shocking 51.8% prevalence of hypertension.
While almost everyone realises the need to shed their lethargy and get moving, lifestyle changes that boost physical activity are easier said than done. However, a new program recently launched by the lifestyle modification community Limoverse has the perfect solution to motivate people to exercise more daily.
Called HealthFi Burn2Earn, this program rewards users financially with Limo crypto tokens into their wallets as per the calories they burn daily which is measured via wearables like smartwatches or fitness bands. There is also a GPS based Move2Earn program under Limoverse HealthFi that rewards users with crypto tokens based on outdoor activities like walking, jogging or running.