India has largest number of diabetes patients: Report

India accounts for the largest number of people — 50.8 million — suffering from diabetes in the world, followed by China (43.2 million) and the United States (26.8 million), reveal new figures released by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF).

India continues to be the "diabetes capital" of the world, and by 2030, nearly 9 per cent of the country's population is likely to be affected from the disease, warns the fourth edition of the World Diabetes Atlas launched by the IDF at the 20th World Diabetes Congress in Montreal, Canada.

"This trend will continue till the next 20 years unless significant efforts are made to curb this disease. Unlike infections, which may cost in short term, diabetes leads to not only long-term expenditure but also to piling up of complications," said Dr Anoop Misra, of Fortis hospital, on the phone from Montreal. "It is imperative that we strike at the root to prevent this disease right from childhood itself."

According to the atlas, while India spends about $2.8 billion or 1% of the total diabetes spending worldwide, the US accounts for $198 billion or 52.7%.

"In India, the poorest people with diabetes spend an average of 25% of their income on private care. Most of this money is used to stay alive by avoiding fatally high blood sugar levels," says the atlas.

While a staggering 285 million people worldwide have diabetes, the disease is affecting more people of working age than previously expected, according to the atlas.

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