Dr. Sharma discusses alarming rise of diabetes and obesity

The DFW Hospital Council (DFWHC) Foundation’s Director of Public and Population Health Sushma Sharma, PhD, was invited to speak at UT Southwestern’s Global Health Division on Wednesday, Dec. 3. Dr. Sharma’s talk detailed her 15 years of diabetes research in Asia, Europe and North America.

Dr. Sushma Sharma

Dr. Sushma Sharma

In her presentation “Diabetes and Obesity: A Global Health Challenge,” Dr. Sharma detailed the alarming rise of diabetes and obesity worldwide. According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), 382 million people worldwide are suffering from diabetes and 80 percent of those come from low and middle-income families.

The prevalence of diabetes has increased significantly in recent decades and is now reaching epidemic proportions in many parts of the world, according to Dr. Sharma.

“A dramatic rise in diabetes has been reported in world’s two fastest growing economies as well as the most populated nations of China and India,” she said. “According to recent reports, India has more than 62 million diabetics, which is about 8 percent of the adult population. Scientists suggest these numbers are conservative and a similar number of unreported diabetics also exist.”

According to Dr. Sharma, nearly 12 percent of Chinese adults now suffer from diabetes, making China’s rate of prevalence the highest in the world.

“There is an urgent need to strengthen the public health network in developing nations to promote healthy lifestyles,” said Dr. Sharma. “There should be attempts at consciousness raising and community development programs to prevent and manage diabetes.”

In the U.S., 29.1 million people, or 9.3 percent of the population, have diabetes. Numbers are also rapidly increasing in Texas.

“Scientists have estimated that by 2025, Texan diabetics will number 4 million,” said Dr. Sharma. “By this time, the Dallas-Fort Worth area could be home to over one million diabetics.”

For questions on how to design and implement diabetes prevention programs in your community, please contact Dr. Sharma at the DFWHC Foundation at 972-719-4900. You can also e-mail her at [email protected].