The Link Between Diabetes and Obesity

Maintaining a healthy weight is a struggle many people are familiar with.

In the United States alone, the weight loss industry is worth $66 billion, yet something isn’t working. Americans want to lose weight, but many fail to do so. It’s estimated that 160 million Americans are overweight or obese.

Carrying extra pounds isn’t just a matter of not being able to fit in an old pair of jeans. Obesity comes with health complications, including a significantly higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes as well as a potentially shorter lifespan.

The link between obesity and diabetes is so strong, in fact, that over 90% of people suffering from Type 2 diabetes are either overweight or obese.

But there’s hope. Our expert, Nicole Arcuri Kimzey, DO, shares why some people gain more weight than others and how Type 2 diabetes can be prevented and treated.

How obesity can lead to Type 2 diabetes

There are two mechanisms that make it easier for Type 2 diabetes to occur in obese individuals.

The first is linked to inflammation and the way fat cells process nutrients. In obese individuals, fat cells are overworked. This leads to stress in the cells, which in turn triggers the release of proteins called cytokines. When cytokines get released, insulin stops working properly, making it easier to develop high blood sugar levels and insulin resistance.

The second mechanism through which obesity can lead to diabetes is overeating while still feeling hungry.

In obese people, leptin, the hormone that signals that you’re full, decreases, while insulin, the fat-storing hormone, increases to keep up with the wave of carbohydrates coming from food.

Conditions linked to diabetes that may lead to weight gain

Obesity is often linked to a higher calorie intake and a sedentary lifestyle. However, that’s not always the case.

Conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and hypothyroidism both lead to weight gain and come with a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.  

That doesn't mean that lifestyle doesn’t play an important role in these cases. It does. But you have to be realistic with your weight-loss goals, as these conditions may slow down your progress.

Fortunately, when PCOS and hypothyroidism are treated, the weight gain associated with these conditions may stop, and patients can work toward a healthier weight.

Find out if you’re at risk

You can have prediabetes or diabetes for years without realizing you have an issue, so the best way to determine whether you need medical guidance is to come in for a checkup. To see if your weight qualifies you as overweight or obese, you can use this BMI calculator.

If you live near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, call or click to schedule an appointment with Dr. Kimzey. She’ll help you determine if you’re at risk for diabetes and what you can do to decrease your chances of getting it.

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