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Epidemiology and determinants of type 2 diabetes in south Asia

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 22:38 authored by Andrew HillsAndrew Hills, Arena, R, Khunti, K, Yajnik, CS, Jayawardena, R, Henry, CJ, Street, SJ, Soares, MJ, Misra, A
Type 2 diabetes has rapidly developed into a major public health problem in south Asia (defined here as Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka) in recent decades. During this period, major lifestyle changes associated with economic transition, industrialisation, urbanisation, and globalisation have been key determinants in the increasing burden of non-communicable diseases. A decline in nutrition quality, reduced physical activity, and increased sedentary behaviours are reflected in the increasing prevalence of type 2 diabetes and related risk factors in the region. The International Diabetes Federation 2017 estimates of the prevalence of diabetes in adults in the region range from 4.0% in Nepal to 8.8% in India. The prevalence of overweight ranges from 16.7% in Nepal to 26.1% in Sri Lanka, and the prevalence of obesity ranges from 2.9% in Nepal to 6.8% in Sri Lanka. An increasing proportion of children, adolescents, and women are overweight or obese, leading to a heightened risk of type 2 diabetes. Ethnic south Asians present with greater metabolic risk at lower levels of BMI compared with other ethnic groups (referred to as the south Asian phenotype), with type 2 diabetes often developing at a younger age, and with rapid progression of diabetic complications. Because of the presence of multiple risk factors and a body composition conducive to the development of type 2 diabetes, south Asians should be aggressively targeted for prevention. In this Series paper, we detail trends in the prevalence of diabetes in the region and address major determinants of the disease in the context of nutrition and physical activity transitions and the south Asian phenotype.


Publication title

The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology










School of Health Sciences


The Lancet Publishing Group

Place of publication

United Kingdom

Rights statement

Copyright 2018 Elsevier Ltd.

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Socio-economic Objectives

Social structure and health

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