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Sunday, Sep 22, 2002

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`Changing lifestyle' to blame for diabetes

Sankar Radhakrishnan

David Horwitz

CHENNAI, Sept. 21

"A DISEASE primarily of the West, but now one that is expanding rapidly and likely to become a major health problem internationally," is how David Horwitz describes diabetes. And he should know.

As Vice-President of Medical and Clinical Affairs at LifeScan Inc, a Johnson & Johnson group company that specialises in blood glucose monitoring products for home and hospital use, Horwitz supervises clinical research, new product development and education programmes among other things.

In Chennai as part of the faculty of a three-day training programme organised by the American Diabetes Association and the Madras Diabetes Research Foundation, Horwitz says the two most important aspects in the process of preventing diabetes, especially among those at risk, is maintaining the ideal body weight and getting plenty of exercise. Families need to stay alert to changes in the behaviour of children, especially if they begin to display low energy levels despite eating well, he adds.

He says the incidence of diabetes is growing very rapidly in India possibly on account of the changing lifestyles. As people get access to better nutrition and concerns about communicable diseases become less, conditions such as diabetes are becoming more prominent, adds Horwitz.

And while juvenile or Type 1 diabetes where the body does not produce insulin is prevalent in India, Horwitz says he is not too sure how widespread it is. "My understanding is that in India Type 1 diabetes is not as much of a problem among children as Type 2 or `adult' diabetes," he says. This, he declares, is similar to the pattern in the US were more children are falling prey to Type 2 diabetes as children exercise less and the level of juvenile obesity increases. He adds that he suspects that a similar trend will be witnessed in other parts of the world as lifestyle patterns change.

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`Changing lifestyle' to blame for diabetes

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