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Diabetes remission possible with controlled diet, exercise

With cases of diabetes estimated to double from the current 10 crore to over 20 crore by 2045, strategies to manage the disease are being reviewed by health professionals.

In a new nationwide survey, it has been found that 71 per cent of doctors believe that Diabetes Remission (DR) — bringing blood sugars back into the normal range without the aid of medications — is possible.

The all-India survey among diabetologists was conducted by the digital healthcare company Practo in April to understand the attitudes of the medical community towards managing India’s rising diabetes burden.

The medicos also said that nearly 40 per cent of their patients were eligible for DR, but barely 52 per cent had access to a dietician, either in-house or externally, or a structured DR programme.

The rest are forced to single-handedly play many roles in a time-constrained environment, the survey found.

The survey revealed several barriers to implementing DR in their patients — difficulty in adhering to diet and fitness plans by the patient (86 per cent), lack of family support (43 per cent), and lacking resources to closely follow up on the patient’s progress (29 per cent).

Accordingly, a Practo spokesperson said that while the survey highlighted a growing predisposition towards DR among the healthcare professionals, it also brought to the fore a crucial gap in diabetes care delivery — the need for a structured support system to enable successful delivery of DR plans to the patients.

Those surveyed were of an average age of 44, with an HbA1c level of 8.4, and an average duration of diabetes of over six years.

From this, 88 per cent reduced or stopped medications over the six-month course, on an average the patients experienced a 1.7-point reduction in HcA1c levels (from 8.4 to 6.6) and a weight loss of 7.2 kg in the same period.

Medical Advisor of Practo Transform, Hema Venkataraman, said that diabetes in India is a unique and complex condition posing great challenges in its management.

“With as high as 20 per cent incidence in some cities, there is an urgent need for the rollout of widespread prevention and remission programmes. The survey highlights that the country’s healthcare community recognises the importance of DR and also the unmet need for a support system to help them implement the DR,” Venkarataman said.

Consultant endocrinologist Anusha N.D. said that while diabetes can’t be reversed, it is definitely possible to put it into remission with weight loss, especially since its becoming common these days among youngsters with increased obesity.

“So, if one loses weight by stressing on diet and exercise, remission is possible, but it may not happen to all. However, weight loss definitely comes with a lot of other benefits, like, one can decrease the dose of diabetic and hypertensive medications and the lipid profile will be better,” said Anusha.

The experts said that weight loss will lead to fewer complications, better health, improved lifestyles and significant reduction in cardiovascular risks.

The Practo survey covered medicos in Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Pune, and other Tier II and III cities.

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