The Link Between Diabetes and Obesity

It’s no coincidence that the growth of diabetes diagnoses in the United States — approximately 100 million now — has occurred at the same time that one-third of the nation has tipped the scales into obesity. In fact, many in the medical world call the problem “diabesity.”

At Physicians Medical Primary Care, our team, led by Dr. Gina Bui and Sveltlana Burkhead, understands the many health complications that come with obesity, with diabetes ranking at, or near, the top.

To help you better understand how your weight can make you more prone to developing diabetes, we’ve pulled together the following information.

Diabetes 101

To get started, let’s step back and review what type 2 diabetes is. At its core, type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition in which your body becomes resistant to insulin and it’s unable to regulate the levels of glucose (sugar) in your blood. Insulin is a hormone produced by your pancreas that’s responsible for delivering the sugar in your bloodstream to your cells, which use the sugar as fuel. 

With diabetes, your pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin or your body becomes resistant to the action of insulin, which leaves you with higher-than-normal levels of glucose in your blood. The result of high levels of sugar in your blood over long periods can lead to an increase in peripheral vascular disease, strokes, and coronary artery disease, as well as some very serious cardiovascular issues, as well as nerve damage and kidney damage.

There are many reasons why people develop diabetes, including heredity and low birth weight. When it comes to type 2 diabetes, however, the prevalence is 3-7 times higher in adults who are obese and 20 times higher in those whose body mass indexes are 35 or higher. 

Making the connection between obesity and diabetes

At this very moment, medical researchers are studying the exact mechanisms between weight and insulin resistance. Still, the numbers illustrate a direct link between the two, and even work in the opposite direction —  people who are prediabetic or newly diagnosed with diabetes can use weight loss and exercise to reverse the condition or avoid crossing over into full-blown diabetes.

What we do know is that overeating without exercising puts an enormous strain on your cells as they try to process the overload. As a result, your cells may shut down their insulin receptors, leaving you with unregulated glucose in your system.

The bottom line is that the connection between obesity and type 2 diabetes exists, which means that you have an opportunity to make some lifestyle changes that may prevent a diagnosis altogether. Here at our practice, we tailor diet and exercise programs to our patients who may be experiencing a diabetes diagnosis because of weight, allowing them to take valuable preventive steps in the right direction.

To learn more about how your weight affects your risk for diabetes, please don’t hesitate to contact our office in San Jose, California, to set up a consultation.

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