The Link Between Diabetes and Obesity

The Link Between Diabetes and Obesity

Approximately 90% of people who have type 2 diabetes are obese. The two conditions are linked in some ways that clinicians understand and in some that they’re still in the process of uncovering.

If you have questions about the link between diabetes, obesity, and your health, our knowledgeable team here at High Rock Internal Medicine is ready to answer them. Based in Lexington, North Carolina, our staff is well-versed in treating patients who have insulin resistance, prediabetes, diabetes, and obesity.

We’re happy to discuss your specific situation with you and help you develop a plan that works for your life. If you’re worried about developing diabetes due to your body weight, here’s what you need to know about your risk factors and how to reduce your risk of getting diabetes.

Your risk

If you’re overweight or obese (so if you have a body mass index or BMI exceeding 30), your risk of developing diabetes is significantly higher than that of a person with a lower BMI.

About 35% of Americans older than 20 have a condition known as prediabetes, and about 70% of people with prediabetes will develop diabetes within 10 years.

Once you have diabetes, you’re at a greater risk for a range of comorbidities – chronic conditions that can accompany a primary disease. A few such conditions include:

  • Hypertension
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Kidney disease
  • Blindness

Visceral fat may be the culprit

Visceral fat is fat that surrounds the organs in your abdomen. It’s different from the other type of body fat, subcutaneous fat, in some important ways.

For example, visceral fat doesn’t just store energy, which is the primary function of fat. Instead, it secretes certain chemicals and hormones. Researchers believe that those secretions make your cells less efficient in how they use insulin.

The insulin-glucose process

Your pancreas releases insulin, which tells your cells to use glucose or to store it. When you develop insulin resistance, your cells stop responding properly to the signal to use the glucose. Glucose builds up in your blood, leading eventually to prediabetes and, later, to diabetes.

Scientists think that visceral fat and the chemicals it secretes plays a role in insulin resistance. That’s one of the ways that obesity is linked to diabetes.

Reduce your risk through weight loss

Losing even a relatively small amount of weight, such as 5-10% of your body weight, can slow or even stop your development of diabetes.

Of course, it’s much simpler to say “lose some weight” than to actually lose weight. And if you have insulin resistance, prediabetes, or type 2 diabetes, losing weight can be even more difficult. Limiting your consumption of complex carbohydrates, such as bread and pasta, may be helpful.

Exercise can also help you lose weight, and it seems to provide some protection against the development of diabetes. If you don’t already exercise, consider adding a 20-30 minute walk to your schedule on most days of the week.

To learn more about the lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk of developing diabetes, schedule an appointment with our Lexington, North Carolina, office by requesting an appointment online or simply giving us a call between 8am and 6pm, Monday through Friday.

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