The rate of diabetes diagnoses is increasing around the world, including in India. India has the second-highest total population in the world at more than 1.3 billion people. The International Diabetes Federation estimated that 72.9 million adults in India were living with diabetes in 2017. A 2017 study also found that diabetes prevalence was higher in urban areas.

PopulationPrevalence of Diabetes
China1.39 billion11.2 percent
India1.33 billion11.2 percent in urban areas
United States3.32 million10.5 percent

There are about 1.3 billion people in India — roughly four times the population of the United States. However, 72.9 million people in India had diabetes as of 2017, which rose from 40.9 million in 2007.

Most of this increase is in cases of type 2 diabetes, which is caused by insulin resistance and the pancreas slowly losing the ability to make insulin. A complex set of factors can contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes, including:

  • genes
  • environment
  • lifestyle

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition that results from your body attacking beta cells in the pancreas that makes insulin.

Type 1 diabetes has increased by about 3 to 5 percent each year in India, according to 2015 research. Research from 2016 found that type 2 diabetes increased by an average of almost 8 percent per year in urban areas in Tamil Nadu, India since 2006.

These numbers are expected to rise, too. It’s estimated that there will be 134 million people living with diabetes in India by 2045.

Like many cultures across the world, daily life in India is changing.

A Western diet is becoming more popular, which means more refined carbohydrates, processed foods, and trans fats. As the urbanization of cities continues, more people are leading less active, sedentary lives, as well.

Below are some contributors that have been linked to increases in diabetes prevalence in India:

Other risk factors for diabetes among people in India include:

People of Asian descent may also have more visceral fat, which is abdominal fat around the organs, and can increase the risk of diabetes.

There are many efforts underway to study solutions for the rise of diabetes in India.

Natural and holistic healthcare is popular in India, and there is some limited evidence that medicinal herbs like ashwagandha and traditional exercise like yoga may help to lower glucose levels. Higher intensity exercises can help, too.

Other prevention and treatment strategies include:

  • diabetes screening and education
  • early diagnosis and treatment
  • adequate blood glucose control with oral medications or insulin
  • access to diabetes care
  • cholesterol and blood pressure control
  • foot and eye care for people with diabetes
  • screening for kidney problems and other diabetes-related conditions

An estimated 422 million adults from around the world had diabetes in 2014.

Part of the reason India and other parts of the world have increasing rates of diabetes is:

  • a rise in middle-class populations
  • global adoption of Western diet
  • tobacco use
  • eating more fast food
  • sedentary lifestyles (less physical activity)
  • lack of access to diabetes care and education

The global prevalence of diabetes is increasing around the world, and India is seeing a stark rise in diagnoses. This is due to a complex set of factors, including genetic components and changes in eating behaviors and activity levels. Access to diabetes care and education is an important step to address this issue.