Is corporate India sitting on a sugar bomb?

The number of diabetics in India are likely to rise to 101 million by 2030, estimates the World Health Organisation (WHO). Countrywide, there are currently 70 million diabetics and another 80 million more in the pre-diabetes stage. Urban India sees six times more prevalence of diabetes as compared to the rural. The erratic and long work hours of Corporate India is painting a gruesome picture with 1 in 5 employees suffering from either diabetes or hypertension, resulting in exposure to the risk of developing life threatening diseases at a later stage.

On the occasion of World Diabetes Day 2016, Apollo Munich Health Insurance released an in-house study conducted on 8 Lakh corporate health insurance customers across the country to understand the awareness levels of diabetes across the country and to gather deeper insight on the extent of underlying problem of diabetes amongst corporate India’s workforce.

Some Alarming Incidence and Claim Trends on Diabetes

Amongst the entry to managerial level workforce aged between 18-35 years, the percentage of diabetes incidence is only 0.05%. Before the time of retirement, 56-60 years, the incidence becomes 9 times higher from entry level.

In the corporate work force between age groups 46-60 years, the incidence of diabetes suddenly takes a huge leap of 20% as compared to the earlier age bracket of 36-45 years and it is alarmingly 50% higher in the age bracket of 56-60 years.

By analyzing the trends of incidence of diabetes in our corporate workforce, we can clearly say that the risk of getting diabetes is when the work force reach their mid-forties. Hence, we should start taking protection against the health condition early, at a likely pre-diabetes stage i.e. by the time a corporate professional reaches 40+ years. A better work-life balance and modifications in lifestyle from an early age can help people not contract the condition in the first place and people already with the condition avoid the silent killer from creating further complications with better diabetes management.

Women Fair in Diabetes Management

A gender wise analysis of our study shows that women in the corporate sector are less affected with incidence of diabetes than men. Further, insurance claims made by men is almost 13% higher than women for various treatments related to diabetes, showing that women are managing their diabetes better than their male counter parts.

Diabetes Treatment can Leave a Hole in Your Pocket

Our study also indicates that the average claim size for diabetics is 90% higher as compared to an overall disease average claim size. Diabetes, although not as fatal as a heart disease but does dig a bigger hole in the pocket due to the disease management cost, managing health condition and as the complications arising out of diabetes is also recurring and expensive. The treatment costs involved and the reduced productivity in patients in the latter years of the diabetic health condition also contributes to higher costs.

Ironically, in India due to socio-economic improvement the changing lifestyle is associated with a sedentary existence with reduced physical activity, high rates of obesity and diabetes. Nowhere is this conduct more acute than it is among the people working in corporate India. They spend long hours in seated postures, pay little attention to their diet, and cannot take out time for exercise! As a result, work-life balance is hampered and people act only when the health condition is acute.

Diabetes Affects Productivity of Corporate India

Average length of stay in a hospital for a diabetes related complication is 7 days as compared to 4.5 days of hospital stay for other diseases. Besides the mental and physical agony, this also causes productivity loss in terms of absence from work in case of hospitalization. Diabetes can affect corporate India by impairing the productivity of its work force, increase absenteeism at work and also affect the quality of life of its people.

Employers should Ensure a Better Employee Work-Life Balance

Employers should help employees manage their health to enhance the productivity and overall performance. Crafting employee benefit programs encompassing relevant wellness solutions for their work force can be helpful.

At an individual level, one must maintain a better work-life balance from an early age to avoid contracting the disease and if a person is already having diabetes then one should try managing the condition for better quality of life and for avoiding complications arising out of diabetes.

Sweet Sacrifices for Better Diabetes Management

A simple lifestyle modification brings about dramatic changes in the management of your diabetes. Even if this is not strictly about reversing diabetes, this will help you optimize the effect of the medicines and minimize the doses.

Choose a healthy and balanced diet. Minimize the calorie intake to reduce your body weight. Avoid all processed foods, saturated and trans-fats. Avoid eating three big meals a day and try four to six smaller meals throughout the day. This will help with your metabolism and balance your body’s sugar levels.

Start exercising 30 minutes day, at least five days in a week. The regular exercise can cut down the progression of diabetes, and even reverse its effects. Exercising also helps your body use medications more efficiently and helps control your cholesterol and blood pressure as well.

Minimise stress in your life. Consider practicing yoga or meditation on a regular basis.

Antony Jacob

Mr. Antony Jacob, CEO of Apollo Munich Health Insurance, towards achieving the aim of Uncomplicating health insurance for its stakeholders. As CEO, Antony has been steering the company up the growth ladder since April 2009. Being among the first employees of the health insurance sector, he brings enormous knowledge and vast expertise to the organization, besides enthusiasm and professional exposure in other sectors.

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