India's Diabetes Epidemic Cuts Down Millions Who Escape Poverty
Comment of the Day

November 08 2010

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

India's Diabetes Epidemic Cuts Down Millions Who Escape Poverty

This article by Jason Gale for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:
More than 50 million Indians are struggling with the same frightening predicament. The International Diabetes Federation in October 2009 ranked India as the country with the most diabetics worldwide. The umbrella group of more than 200 national associations estimates that the disease will kill about 1 million Indians this year, more than in any other country.

With 7.1 percent of adults afflicted, India is on a par with developed countries such as Australia, where 7.2 percent of adults suffer. India now fares worse than the U.K., where 4.9 percent are diabetic. In the U.S., where more than two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese, 12.3 percent have diabetes.

Doctors say a perverse twist of science makes Indians susceptible to diabetes and complications such as heart disease and stroke as soon as their living conditions improve. As a decade of 7 percent average annual growth lifts 400 million people into the middle class, bodies primed over generations for poverty, malnutrition and manual labor are leaving Indians ill- prepared for calorie-loaded food or the cars, TVs and computers that sap physical activity.

Programmed for Diabetes
Researchers are finding the pattern begins before birth: Underfed mothers produce small, undernourished babies with metabolisms equipped for deprivation and unable to cope with plenty. Sonar's mother, a widow who spent her life in a village and raised seven children by doing farm work, was active and healthy into her 70s, Sonar says.

"Diabetes trends in this country are absolutely frightening," says Nikhil Tandon, a professor of endocrinology at New Delhi's All India Institute of Medical Sciences, which India Today magazine ranks as the nation's top medical school.

In urban India, Type 2 diabetes, the kind Sonar has, affected 3 percent to 4 percent of adults when Tandon, 46, graduated in the mid-1980s.

"Now, it's 11 or 12 percent," he says. "In some parts of southern India, it's 18 or 19 percent. Nobody predicted it. That is huge."

Eoin Treacy's view The Greatest Urbanisation remains the mostly likely theme to dominate investment trends over the coming decades. However with increasing standards of living often come increasing waistlines and the non- communicable diseases associated with a rich diet and lack of exercise. Diabetes remains a growing threat to the health of the global middle class who can increasingly also afford the drugs required to treat their affliction.

Novo Nordisk is the largest share in Denmark at a 30% weighting of the KFX and specialises in diabetes medication. The share remains on a consistent upward trajectory and a sustained move below the 200-day MA, currently near DKK480 would be required to question medium-term uptrend consistency.

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