Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes – What’s the Connection?
The connection between obesity and type 2 diabetes is well-established. Obesity is a major risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes. About 85% of people with type 2 diabetes are either overweight or obese. Therefore, it’s very important to maintain a healthy weight to protect yourself from type 2 diabetes.
The good news is, reducing your body weight, even by a small amount, can lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In fact, just a 5% reduction in body weight, coupled with regular exercise, can reduce the chance of having type 2 diabetes by 50%.
WHAT IS OBESITY?
Obesity is a condition wherein an individual has too much body fat. How will you know if you’re obese? If your current weight is 20% higher than the normal weight (corresponding to your height), you are considered obese.
Another way to find out is through your Body Mass Index or BMI. If your BMI is 30 or higher, you’re already obese. To determine your BMI, you can search for online BMI calculators. Enter your height and weight, and your BMI will be displayed instantly.
You can also know your BMI by using this formula:
BMI = weight (in pounds) / height (in inches)² x 703
For example, a person who’s 6 feet tall and weighs 200 pounds has a BMI of:
BMI = 200 / (72)² x 703
The following are the weight classifications according to BMI:
BMI below 18.5 = underweight
BMI of 18.5 to 24.99 = normal weight
BMI of 25 to 29.99 = overweight
BMI of 30 to 34.99 = obesity (class 1)
BMI of 35 to 39.99 = obesity (class 2)
BMI of 40 or higher = morbid obesity
Genetics can play a role in being obese. It can influence your body type, including where your body fats will be deposited. Researchers believe that there’s a connection between abdominal fat and type 2 diabetes.
The risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases progressively as your Body Mass Index (BMI) increases. Research suggest that obese people are up to 80 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes compared to those who have a BMI of less than 22.
CAUSES OF OBESITY
Obesity is caused by eating too much but moving too little. If you consume high amounts of sugar and fat, but don’t burn energy through physical activity and exercise, much of the excess calories will be stored in the body as fat.
The following are the causes of obesity:
- Eating large amounts of fatty, sweet, and processed foods
- Drinking too many sugary drinks
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Medical conditions
HOW OBESITY CAUSES TYPE 2 DIABETES
If you are obese, you’ve got a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, especially if you have excess fat around the abdominal area. Abdominal obesity (having a large waistline) is a high-risk form of obesity.
- Reduced sensitivity to insulin – Fat cells in the abdomen induces the release of pro-inflammatory chemicals that can make the body less sensitive to insulin. This condition is known as insulin resistance – the precursor to type 2 diabetes.
- Disruption in fat metabolism – Obesity can trigger changes in the body’s metabolism. It causes fat tissue to release fat molecules into the blood, affecting insulin-responsive cells. This can lead to reduced insulin sensitivity. Another theory how obesity causes type 2 diabetes is that it can lead to prediabetes, a condition that can become type 2 diabetes later on.
Research shows that increased consumption of soda drinks and other sugary beverages has led to a big increase in the number of obese people. Studies also show that eating too much red meat and processed meats (especially hot dogs, sausages, and bacon) can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH ON HOW OBESITY CAUSES TYPE 2 DIABETES
Scientists know that obesity is a major factor in developing type 2 diabetes. However, it is not yet very clear how excess weight causes this metabolic disease. Researchers at the Harvard University discovered that obesity causes stress in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) – a network of membranes found inside the cells.
The endoplasmic reticulum is responsible for processing fats and proteins. It is the site where excess lipids or blood fats are processed. In the case of overweight and obese people, there is a state of overnutrition. All of those nutrients need to be stored, processed, and utilized.
The endoplasmic reticulum is flooded with nutrients, way much more than it can handle. As a result, the ER is overworked and starts sending out alarm signals. In response, the cells dampen their insulin receptors which can lead to insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone that converts blood glucose (sugar) to energy for the cells in the body.
In the case of obesity, a short-term adaptive response can become a long-term chronic illness. In obese people, the ER suppresses the cell’s normal response to insulin. As a consequence, insulin loses its ability to regulate the body’s sugar levels.
HOW TO TREAT OBESITY
Weight loss happens when energy expenditure is greater than energy intake. Limiting consumption of complex carbohydrates can help in losing weight. Cut down on rice, white bread, sweet potatoes, and peas. Complex carbohydrates tend to raise blood glucose more than other foods.
Avoid eating too many sweets such as chocolates, donuts, cakes, and pastries. Control your consumption of red meat and processed food (hot dogs, deli meats, and bacon). Shy away from sugary beverages such as soft drinks and artificial juices.
Instead, eat more vegetables, fruits, chicken, and fish. Drink water instead of sweetened beverages. Eating fiber-rich foods can also be helpful in preventing obesity and type 2 diabetes. Dietary fiber can improve glycemic control. Foods that are rich in fiber aids in weight loss and weight maintenance by providing fewer calories per serving, creating a sense of fullness, and enhancing fullness between meals.
- Physical activity
Regular physical activity improves insulin sensitivity and glycemic control. You can aim for 30 minutes of exercise a day, five times a week. The thirty minutes doesn’t have to be a single session. You can divide the activity into multiple short periods.
To make exercise a regular habit, choose activities that you will enjoy, or you can also bring along a friend or family member. Some of the physical activities and exercises that you can do include walking, jogging, dancing, swimming, and cycling.
- Bariatric surgery
Bariatric surgery is aimed at people who have a BMI higher than 40, or those with a BMI of 35 – 39.9 with accompanying medical conditions such as diabetes or heart disease.
There are three types of bariatric surgery – restrictive, malabsorptive, and a combination of both. Studies show that bariatric surgery can help manage not only obesity but type 2 diabetes as well. Aside from weight loss, the procedure also induces hormonal changes because of the way food is stored and processed.
There is a strong connection between obesity and type 2 diabetes. About 85% of people with type 2 diabetes are either overweight or obese. To protect yourself from health complications of obesity, it is important to maintain a healthy weight.
The common cause of obesity is eating too much but moving too little. Being conscious of what (and how much) you eat plus having regular exercise can help a lot in losing weight. If you’re obese, just losing 5 to 10% of your current weight can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by half.