Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes

Obesity and Type 2 DiabetesDiabetes is a medical condition that prevents the body from properly processing blood sugar. Type 2 diabetes is highly associated with excess weight and afflicts many obese people, putting them at risk of disabling symptoms and complications.

Because type 2 diabetes and its precursors are closely tied to obesity, weight loss is often all that is needed to improve or resolve them. Even a moderate amount of weight loss can help many people reduce diabetes medications and even put the disease into remission.


Insulin Absorption in Healthy Individuals

Insulin produced by pancreas opens channels in cells to allow entry of glucose

When we eat foods that contain carbohydrates, our bodies break them down into a sugar called glucose. Glucose travels through the bloodstream and supplies energy to all of our cells. However, before our cells can use glucose as energy, they need a hormone called insulin. The pancreas detects the presence of glucose in our blood after we eat and releases insulin to balance our blood sugar levels.

“Insulin takes the blood sugar that’s floating around in our bloodstream and puts it into the places we need it,” says Dr. Craig Primack, a medical obesity specialist. According to Dr. Primack, insulin is “like the key in the lock,” opening the door for our muscles, organs and fat to take in glucose and put it to use.

Type-2 Diabetes

Insulin is unable to open channels into cells resulting in increasing levels of blood glucose

When insulin is no longer able to fulfill this crucial role, we can gradually develop type 2 diabetes as our cells become unable to process high levels of glucose in the blood.

Though it is not entirely clear why insulin stops functioning properly, it is generally agreed that obesity and physical inactivity are contributors to type 2 diabetes.

  • Obesity. When our bodies have more fatty tissue, especially in the abdomen, our cells become more resistant to insulin and more is required to reduce blood sugar levels.
  • Inactivity. Because physical activity uses up glucose for energy, it can lower blood sugar levels. Physical activity also helps with weight control and makes cells more sensitive to the effects of insulin.

Other risk factors for diabetes include:

  • Age. Anyone can develop diabetes, but those over 45 are at higher risk.
  • Family history. If a parent or sibling has type 2 diabetes, you will be at higher risk.
  • Race. You will be at higher risk if you are black, Hispanic, American Indian, Asian American or Pacific Islander.

Stages of Development

It takes time for insulin to stop functioning properly. The path to type 2 diabetes can be broken down into these stages:

  1. Insulin resistance. The body’s cells stop responding properly to insulin’s effects. The pancreas compensates by pumping out more insulin, keeping blood glucose levels from becoming abnormal.
  2. Prediabetes. As insulin becomes increasingly ineffective, the pancreas continues to release more insulin to reduce blood glucose levels. Though insulin levels continue to rise, the body becomes more resistant to its effects. The pancreas can no longer keep up and blood glucose levels begin to rise above the normal range.
  3. Type 2 diabetes. With the pancreas no longer able to balance glucose, blood glucose levels remain abnormally high and continue to rise.

The time it takes to progress through these stages varies. However, without treatment or lifestyle changes, prediabetes typically results in type 2 diabetes within 10 years.

Symptoms and Complications

Though glucose is important to our bodies, abnormally high levels can result in poor health and medical consequences.

Insulin resistance and prediabetes typically cause no symptoms, but may lead to increased hunger 30 to 90 minutes after a meal. People often suffer from these conditions, and even type 2 diabetes, for years without realizing. However, symptoms of diabetes can include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Slow-healing wounds
  • Fatigue and irritability
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Frequent or recurrent infections
  • Increased thirst and more frequent urination
  • Increased hunger and hunger soon after eating
  • Patches of dark skin, especially in the armpits or neck

As glucose levels climb higher and higher, they can cause serious nerve and blood vessel damage. This puts those who suffer from type 2 diabetes at an increased risk of complications like:

  • Stroke
  • Blindness
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney failure
  • Lower limb amputation

Testing and Treatment

A blood sugar test can be used to assess glucose levels and determine if you have diabetes or are at risk of developing the condition.

Medications are often used to control type 2 diabetes. However, these medications must be taken indefinitely and are not a long-term solution. According to Dr. Robert Ziltzer, a medical obesity specialist, some of these medications can even lead to weight gain, which “perpetrates the problem of being diabetic.” Instead, he suggests weight loss as the primary form of treatment.

“If you continue gaining weight, you’re less likely to ever be cured of diabetes,” Dr. Ziltzer says. “Losing weight will improve the body’s sensitivity to insulin, and as a result that insulin will work better.”Related Posts

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition that occurs when the airway is temporarily obstructed during sleep, causing disruptions in breathing. These interruptions can last a few seconds at a time or more than a minute, and may occur between 5-30 times over the course of an hour. Breathing often resumes with loud snoring choking or gasping sound, which can further interrupt sleep.

Read More

Obesity and Joint Pain

Obesity is among the leading causes of immobility in adults. An accumulation of excess body weight increases pressure on the joints, especially the hips, knees and ankles. Over time, excess weight can cause cartilage in these joints to wear down, and this may lead to severe pain and difficulty walking.

Understanding Osteoarthritis

Arthritis is a chronic condition caused by inflammation in the joints. It can develop at any joint in the body, including the ankles and knees, the hips, the wrists or elbows. The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis, sometimes called wear-and-tear arthritis.

Read More

Understanding Hyperlipidemia

In small quantities, fat is useful to our health. Unfortunately, we often eat more fat than necessary for benefits like nutrient absorption and joint protection. Our bodies do what they can to push excess fat into storage, leading to weight gain, but often the excess fat will also build-up in the blood stream.

This may lead to unhealthy blood levels of fats or lipids such as cholesterol and triglycerides . When this occurs, the condition is known as hyperlipidemia.

Read More

Understanding Metabolic Syndrome

Being overweight or obese increases your risk for a series of health problems. One common obesity-related condition is metabolic syndrome.

What is Metabolic Syndrome?

Metabolic syndrome is an umbrella term for a collection of medical conditions that commonly develop in association with obesity. There are five primary risk factors considered in metabolic syndrome. If at least three of them occur together, the condition is diagnosed.

Read More

Understanding Hypertension

Blood pressure measures the force of blood against the walls of the arteries as the heart beats. If this pressure remains consistently high, this can cause a number of health issues. According to the National Institute of Health, approximately 1 in 3 adults in the US have hypertension, also known as high blood pressure.

People who have hypertension often experience few or no symptoms, but over time, their bodies may still suffer harmful effects, including heart, blood vessel and kidney damage.

Read More

Understanding Acid Reflux

The Symptoms of Acid Reflux

Acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is a chronic condition resulting in the contents of the stomach flowing back up and irritating the esophagus. Normally, a muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) would prevent anything from returning up through the esophagus, but due to factors such as obesity, pregnancy or smoking, the LES may become weakened and unable to properly block the stomach’s content.ay.

Read More

Obesity and Heart Disease

Obesity and Heart Disease

Heart disease is one of the leading preventable causes of death in the United States.  Every year, about 600,000 Americans die from heart disease.  That is one death every minute related to heart disease. If you are overweight or obese, you are at higher risk of developing heart disease. Losing weight is one of the more effective ways of reducing that risk.

Read More

Joint Pain and Obesity

Joint Pain and Obesity

Obesity and excessive weight can lead to unnecessary wear and tear on your body. Carrying extra weight makes it more difficult to move around and accelerates the wear on your joints and your spine. Extra weight makes it difficult to perform simple tasks that rely on your joints for movement such as squatting, running or climbing stairs. It can also lead to joint disorders such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.

Read More