"Jokingly in talks, I say you haven't made it in society until you get a touch of diabetes."
That's the chairman of the Diabetes Specialities Centre in Chennai, India. He was quoted in a New York Times story about the toll Westernization takes on India's health.
A study by the International Diabetes Federation says India has the second largest number of diabetes cases with an estimated 30 million people, or about 6 percent of the adult population. China has the largest number of diabetics over age 20, around 39 million people or about 2.7 percent of the adult population. According to federation, 7 of the 10 countries with the highest number of diabetics are in the developing world.
It's not just Western fast food and India's ravenous sweet tooth that get the blame. Expanding affluence is also blamed for expanding waistlines and expanding rates of diabetes.
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"In a changing India, it seems to go this way: make good money and get cars, get houses, get servants, get meals out, get diabetes," The Times notes.
One Indian ice cream restaurant promotion proclaimed: "Overweight? Congratulations."
The Times goes on to note: "In the United States, an inverse correlation persists between income and diabetes. Since fattening food is cheap, the poor become heavier than the rich, and they exercise less and receive inferior health care. In India, the disease tends to directly track income."