The Link Between Diabetes and Obesity

Diabetes is on the rise in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and impacts over 34 million people. If you’re obese, meaning you carry abnormally high amounts of body fat, you hold greater risk for certain types of the disease.

At Harbor Community Clinic in San Pedro, California, our compassionate staff helps patients manage diabetes through diagnostics, ongoing exams, lifestyle recommendations, and screening tests for related medical conditions. Read on to learn more about the link between obesity and diabetes.

Diabetes risk factors

There are two main types of diabetes. If you have type 1, it means you produce little or no insulin, a hormone that controls how your cells absorb glucose or blood sugar. If you have type 2 diabetes, you still manufacture insulin, but your body has grown somewhat resistant to its effects. While there’s little you can do to prevent type 1 diabetes, you can prevent or greatly reduce the effects of type 2. 

Type 1 diabetes seems to have genetic components and isn’t linked with lifestyle factors. Type 2 diabetes can have genetic risk factors, too, plus environmental and lifestyle factors. Although not everyone with type 2 diabetes is overweight, type 2 diabetes is strongly linked with obesity. In other words, the more excess weight you carry, the more likely you may be to develop this form of diabetes. Obesity may also increase your risk for gestational diabetes, or diabetes that coincides with pregnancy.

How obesity impacts blood sugar

Type 2 diabetes often happens when excess fat causes your body’s cells to become increasingly insulin-resistant. This is believed to result from obesity triggering changes to your metabolism, which impacts not only the rate at which your body processes food, but a range of other processes, such as blood sugar control and energy production. These metabolic changes cause fatty tissue to release fat into your blood, which can reduce insulin sensitivity and result in diabetes.

Benefits of healthfully losing excess weight

If you’re overweight and have type 2 diabetes, losing those added pounds can go a long way toward improving your overall health. Shedding five to 10% of your body weight can improve your blood sugar levels and make your body better able to produce and utilize insulin. As a result, you’ll feel much better, hold fewer risks for diabetes complications, and possibly need less diabetes medication over time. If you’re pre-diabetic, losing that weight could help stop the condition from developing into full-fledged diabetes.

Diabetes treatment

Healthy lifestyle habits are important aspects of all diabetes treatment. Particularly if you’re obese, adopting such practices can make quite a difference. Your treatment plan may include:

In some cases, doctors recommend bariatric surgery for individuals with diabetes to help manage their weight.

To learn more about diabetes and obesity or get needed support, call Harbor Community Clinic, or request an appointment on our website.

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