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The Connection between Obesity and Diabetes

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

  • Obesity is a medical condition where a person has an excessive amount of body fat that may negatively impact their health.
  • Diabetes is a medical condition where the body has a consistently high level of blood glucose for an extended period, and there are two types.
  • Obesity and diabetes are connected in multiple ways, as they both have a similar root cause and contracting one can lead to contracting the other.
  • Positive lifestyle changes like a healthier diet, increased physical activity, and stress management techniques can all reduce the risks of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

In the US, around 38.4 million people have diabetes, making up 11.6% of the population. Meanwhile, around 39.6% of adults in the US are obese. Unfortunately, there is a lot of overlap between these two conditions. Obesity and diabetes are two medical conditions that can greatly impact quality of life and cause further health problems, like heart disease, hypertension, and more.

These two conditions are closely linked, as having one can increase your chances of developing the other. On the bright side, this link means that making the right lifestyle choices can offer improvement for both and help you minimize your chances of developing either. 

Understanding the connection between obesity and diabetes can help you break the cycle between the two so you can live a healthier lifestyle and maintain your overall wellness.

Understanding Obesity

Obesity is a medical condition where a person has a significant accumulation of body fat to the point where it can have a negative impact on their health. Obesity is often measured by body mass index (BMI), a calculation of a person’s height in comparison to their weight.

Anyone with a BMI over 25 is considered overweight, while a BMI over 30 is generally considered obese. That said, BMI is not the best indicator of overall health, but it can be used as a reference point for understanding a person’s body composition.

Causes of obesity can include any of the following:

  • Genetics or family history – Genetics can influence the speed of your metabolism and make your body more or less likely to store the food you eat as fat or energy.
  • A sedentary lifestyle – Reduced physical activity decreases the amount of energy your body uses, causing the body to produce fat instead.
  • Poor dietary choices – Eating high-calorie, sugary foods on a regular basis is likely to affect metabolic health and slow down the metabolism, making the body more likely to store fat.

Obesity also is a risk factor for several other conditions, including cardiovascular disease, heart disease, some types of cancer, and type 2 diabetes. Taking charge of your health early enough can help you overcome these risks. 

Understanding Diabetes

Diabetes is a medical condition where the body maintains high levels of blood glucose over extended periods of time, often either because the body does not respond properly to insulin or does not produce enough insulin to remove sugar from the blood.

There are two types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 – Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the pancreas does not make insulin because the immune system attacks the cells in the pancreas that produce it. People with type 1 diabetes are typically diagnosed as children or adolescents.
  • Type 2 – Type 2 diabetes is a disorder where cells in the body become resistant to insulin, or the pancreas does not produce enough. Unlike type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes is avoidable, and develops over time due to unhealthy lifestyle factors.

Both types of diabetes are characterized largely by the concept of insulin resistance. Insulin in the body is important for carrying blood sugar to the muscles to be used for energy. When the body struggles to produce insulin or cells do not respond to it, that sugar remains in the blood at high levels, leading to an array of potential health problems.

In type 1 diabetes, the inability to produce insulin begins at a young age. However, when it comes to type 2, insulin resistance develops over time. Factors like a high-sugar diet, overeating, and not enough exercise can all cause the body to struggle to keep up with producing enough insulin to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

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How Obesity & Diabetes Are Connected

In the US each year, obesity contributes to between 30-53% of new cases of type 2 diabetes, demonstrating the influence that excess body fat and dietary choices can have on developing insulin resistance. However, the connection between obesity and diabetes is multi-faceted. 

Obesity is not only one of the biggest risk factors for diabetes but the relationship between the two works in both directions. Researchers have found that 86% of adults with type 2 diabetes are overweight. 

A common link between the two is the influence of insulin resistance, which can be a cause of both obesity and diabetes. Prolonged instances of elevated high blood sugar due to insulin resistance can eventually lead to diabetes as the body’s response to insulin becomes even less sensitive.

A person who is not obese and develops diabetes also has a higher risk for obesity later. If the body cannot keep up with removing glucose from the bloodstream and carrying it to the muscles for energy due to insulin resistance, the body is more likely to store excess sugar as fat.

Diabetes may also make it more difficult to participate in physical activity, which can slow your metabolism and increase your chances of storing fat. Medications that provide support for those with diabetes can also impact metabolic function and lead to weight gain.

Individuals who experience both obesity and diabetes can face several challenges, as both conditions can impact your daily life, making it more difficult to navigate everyday tasks, decreasing energy levels, and limiting your ability to participate in activities that involve a lot of movement. Fortunately, making lifestyle changes to address the connection between the two can provide relief.

Lifestyle Interventions

Although the connection between obesity and diabetes is clear, it’s a link you have control over. Both obesity and type 2 diabetes are largely preventable. You can reduce your risk factors for both diabetes and obesity with the right lifestyle changes.

Some interventions you can take include:

  • Improving your diet – Eating a healthier diet with less sugar and more protein and fiber-rich whole foods can reduce your blood glucose levels and promote a healthy insulin response.
  • Increasing your physical activity – Physical activity promotes a healthier weight by encouraging your body to burn blood sugar energy and helps manage your blood sugar by making cells more sensitive to insulin.
  • Managing stress – Chronic stress has been linked to insulin resistance in studies. Learning how to manage stress through mindfulness techniques and activities you enjoy can promote healthier blood sugar levels.

Still, making firm lifestyle changes isn’t easy, and having the right guidance and support can help you maintain motivation. A holistic weight loss program can provide the support and accountability needed for real lifestyle change.

Break the Cycle of Obesity & Diabetes with a Holistic Weight Loss Program

The relation between obesity and diabetes is strong, which can be a disconcerting thought. On the bright side, this connection means that taking steps to control one can help you control both. With the right lifestyle adjustments, you can take charge of your health so you can avoid long-term health complications through diabetes and obesity.

At re:vitalize weight loss & wellness, we tailor our programs to address your specific needs, even if you’re worried about developing type 2 diabetes due to excess weight. From our weight loss programs for diabetics to our focus on metabolic repair, we provide close support through daily, weekly, and monthly check-ins with our expert weight loss coaches and board-certified nutritionists. Our nutrition-focused programs take a holistic approach to help promote healthy lifestyle changes for weight loss and overall wellness.

Schedule a consultation with our team to learn more about our holistic weight loss programs and how you can start making healthier decisions to feel better. We also offer virtual weight loss programs and flexible lifestyle programs to make meaningful lifestyle change even more accessible.

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