The Link Between Obesity and Diabetes

Medical experts often speak about the link between obesity and diabetes. It’s not just an unjustified bias against people who are overweight, either. The health concerns related to obesity are numerous, the most significant of which may be the link with developing diabetes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 100 million American adults have diabetes or prediabetes. The greater your body mass index (BMI), the greater your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Losing weight can often help to reverse your risk, especially if you lose weight before diabetes starts to develop. 

Our doctors at West Houston Surgical Associates can talk with you about how to effectively lose weight and manage your diabetes or prediabetes.

Does obesity affect the type of diabetes you may develop?

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder. With this condition, your pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin. This type of diabetes is rarely linked to obesity and cannot be modified by weight management.

Type 2 diabetes used to be called “adult-onset diabetes” and was more common in older adults. Today, we’re seeing more younger people developing Type 2 diabetes, including children. But make no mistake, as we’ve already mentioned, being obese greatly raises your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Why are obese people more likely to develop diabetes?

Obesity changes the metabolic system. It makes your pancreas work less efficiently, releasing less insulin in response to calorie intake. Although more research is needed to know for sure, experts believe that obesity causes diabetes rather than the other way around.

Diabetes is linked to lifestyle issues, such as getting too little exercise and eating an excess of calories -- particularly certain types of calories, such as simple carbohydrates and sugars. All the advice you’ve ever heard about eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, avoiding smoking, and getting enough sleep is key to preventing diabetes, too. Type 2 diabetes is largely considered a “lifestyle disease.”

What are the health risks associated with diabetes?

Diabetes and obesity are not just cosmetic issues. Many serious health conditions are associated with diabetes, and the disease itself results in a decreased life span of 5-6 years on average.

Some of the health risks associated with diabetes include:

The health risks of diabetes increase when your blood sugar is poorly controlled. If you develop diabetes, it’s important to take extra good care of yourself and follow your doctor’s recommendations. Your life depends on it.

Can diabetes be reversed?

In some cases, weight loss after bariatric surgery can reverse Type 2 diabetes. However, you should never decrease or stop taking diabetes medication without the recommendation of your doctor. Not everyone with diabetes will be able to stop taking medication. 

The first step to reversing diabetes is by making the necessary lifestyle changes. Reduce your calorie intake by eating a healthier diet and smaller portions. Exercise regularly, quit smoking, and get adequate sleep.

If these basic interventions don’t help you to lose significant amounts of weight, all hope is not lost. Some people are candidates for bariatric surgery to lose weight. Many people who lose weight through bariatric surgery find that their Type 2 diabetes improves.

If you need medical management for diabetes or weight loss, call our office in Houston or make an appointment online today.

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