Diabetes mellitus is arguably one of the "biggest known killers of humankind" and this menace can only be addressed through right education and through "access to diabetes education", which is the theme for this year's World Diabetes Day, say healthcare professionals.

Diabetes is a chronic, metabolic disease which occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin or does not make insulin.

World Diabetes Day is observed on November 14 to commemorate the birth anniversary of Sir Frederick Banting who co-discovered insulin in 1922.

Healthcare professionals shared their views with IANS on this "silent killer" and how understanding can be enhanced to protect more potential victims.

Commenting on the problem, Dr. Deepak Ragoori, Senior Consultant - Urologist and Facility Director, Asian Institute of Nephrology & Urology (AINU) said that India and the world have witnessed a steady increase in the number of diabetes cases over the last three decades.

"The biggest problem in India is that more than 50 per cent of the population suffering from diabetes in our country are neither aware of the problem nor are diagnosed. Diabetes is also the leading cause of kidney disease, and nearly 50-60 per cent of end-stage kidney disease is due to this problem," he said.

According to him, individuals with kidney complications and diabetes need regular monitoring to their kidney health, and constant medical advice from doctors.

"World Diabetes Day is an opportunity to raise awareness of the ailment as a major public health issue, which needs to be addressed both individually and collectively by the society. Diabetes is well known for a systemic impact on a wide range of related complications, including macrovascular and microvascular health issues, which could even result in death. And the only way to tackle this problem is to create more awareness on the ailment, and educate them on the means to control it," added Dr. Padmanabha Varma, Consultant, Endocrinologist, SLG Hospitals.

Highlighting the reasons for high prevalence of diabetes among Indians, Dr. Rahul Patibandla, Consultant, Nephrologist, Amor Hospital, said: "According to some global studies, three-quarters of the world's 300 million adults with diabetes will be in developing countries, and almost a third in India and China alone, by the year 2025. The prevalence of diabetes in India is showing a sharp upswing as is evident from the trends from different parts of the subcontinent. Among the popular reasons for escalation of diabetes case in India are, increased insulin resistance, stronger genetic factors, and environmental factors due to rapid urbanisation."

According to Dr. Varun Mamidi, Consultant Nephrologist, Asian Institute of Nephrology & Urology, to prevent the effect of diabetes on the kidneys, one needs to keep his/her blood sugar levels and blood pressure levels under check.

"Monitor blood cholesterol levels, smokers must quit smoking tobacco, meat lovers must avoid consumption of processed meat, stop consuming refined carbohydrates, and never drink sweetened beverages. Even consumption of salt and proteins must be under check. Additionally, daily physical exercises are mandatory to ensure diabetes does not impact kidneys or other vital organs of a human body."

There are some interesting observations like increased insulin resistance could be the result of phenotype of Indian or subcontinent population, which consists of higher central obesity, along with increased visceral fat.

Many studies have been done and sufficient evidence is now available to highlight the fact that many of the environmental factors adversely related to glucose intolerance are modifiable through lifestyle changes. Hence, education and awareness coupled with lifestyle changes will help control spread of diabetes through the population.