As Diwali coincides with World Diabetes Day on 14 November 2020, health experts across the country are set to raise awareness about diabetes to celebrate ‘Blue Diwali’ amid COVID-19 pandemic. While Union Health Ministry data suggests that nearly 73% of COVID-19 deaths are linked with underlying health problems including diabetes, blood pressure, heart and respiratory diseases, experts too have pointed out that diabetes is one of the most common comorbidities in COVID-19 patients. For the first time in 20 years, World Diabetes Day and Diwali fall on the same day.
Senior endocrinologist Dr Shashank R Joshi addressed the participants of India COVIDiabetes e-summit organised by Heal Foundation ahead of the World Diabetes Day. Speaking about COVID-induced diabetes, Dr Joshi informed that several people with no history of diabetes became diabetic within 3 to 4 months after contracting COVID-19. He further described COVID-induced diabetes as a ‘distinct entity’. Chairman of Delhi Diabetes Research Centre Dr AK Jhingan also spoke about COVID-19 role in aggravating diabetes.
While pointing out that we are currently in the ‘Diabetes Awareness Month’, Dr Shashank R Joshi said, “Every six seconds, we are losing people with diabetes on the planet. And diabetes is a big disruption in COVID-19 because sugar is a cultural medium to grow any virus.”
“It is important to recognise that sugar kills. Sugar is a form of tobacco and it is the need of the hour to beware people on the side effects of sugar,” Dr Joshi added.
“The normal morbidity in COVID is 2.3 per cent, while in diabetics, it is 7.3 per cent — three times more. I have seen during the COVID scourge that elderly people, as well as 60 per cent of males with diabetes, are the most vulnerable lots. As far as the sugar intake is concerned, the American Heart Association recommends for men to take 36 gm and to women 24-25 gm added sugar daily,” said Dr A K Jhingan.
Vice-President at Indian Dietetic Association Dr Shilpa Joshi spoke about the need to reduce high carbohydrate content in the Indian diet ahead of ‘Blue Diwali’. She also spoke about the dire need to increase fruits intake while reducing carbohydrates from the diet. Dr Shilpa Joshi said, “Usually, people take 60-65 percent carbohydrates in their diet, while it shouldn’t be more than 50 percent.”
Speaking further, Assistant Director of Centre for Non-communicable Diseases at National Centre for Disease Control Dr Navin Verma emphasised the need to improve our lifestyle by adding that the activities we undertake are the ‘sheet anchor of all non-communicable disease’ that includes chronic health conditions like diabetes. Dr Verma also informed of guidelines issued by the government in August which stated that every diabetic patient be screened.
“We need to correct our lifestyle to stay healthy. Also, malnutrition may be a component, which needs to be addressed but not by promoting sugar in general. And definitely, if the Health Ministry or other ministries have different opinions regarding this, they should sort it out,” said Dr Navin Verma.
(With inputs from ANI)