November is American Diabetes Month (November 14 is World Diabetes Day), so we’re putting a spotlight on it to remind everyone just how much of a risk factor excess body weight is in the development of diabetes. Specifically, we’re talking about type 2 diabetes, which is the most common form of the disease.
Diabetes is a disease that affects how the body controls blood glucose levels, or blood sugar, which can lead to too much of it in the blood. It’s this surplus of glucose that can cause severe health issues, including heart disease, kidney disease, nerve damage, problems with the eyes and feet, and more.
Type 2 diabetes can develop early in life, but it’s usually seen in individuals over the age of 45, in those who have a family history of it, and in overweight individuals. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (part of the National Institute of Health), it’s estimated that 34.1 million American adults have diabetes. (That’s 10.2% of our country’s population.) Between 90% – 95% of those cases are type 2.
Here’s another scary fact: roughly 88 million adults are prediabetic! In prediabetes, blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not quite high enough to make a diagnosis of diabetes. Without appropriate intervention, many of these cases will develop into positive diagnoses.
Can Being Overweight Really Lead to Diabetes?
A number of factors increase a person’s risk for developing diabetes, but the most substantial risk comes from excess weight and obesity. In fact, roughly 89% of diabetic adults in the U.S. are also overweight. Compare that to the next most significant risk factor: high blood pressure, which is shared by 68.4% of diabetic adults. Other risk factors include high cholesterol (43.5% of diabetic adults), physical inactivity (38%), and smoking (21.6%). But as you can see, there’s a clear correlation between obesity and diabetes. So much in fact, that there is an unofficial term for it: diabesity.
Being overweight doesn’t guarantee that you’ll develop diabetes. But according to The Cleveland Clinic, you’re about 6 times more likely to develop it than someone who’s at a healthy weight. Researchers are still figuring out exactly why excess weight causes diabetes, but it is believed that obesity causes stress to individual cells, which then suppress the signals that insulin receptors receive. Insulin is important because cells need it to absorb glucose. But as these signals become weaker, insulin has less effect on the cells, leaving unabsorbed glucose to linger in the bloodstream. This is referred to as insulin resistance.
Unfortunately, there’s another side of the equation. As the cells become less receptive to insulin, and they absorb less glucose, the pancreas responds by trying to make more insulin. Eventually, overworked from overcompensating, the pancreas will fail, insulin production will fall, and the body will be left with no way to manage blood glucose levels on its own. This is diabetes.
Recognizing The Signs of Type 2 Diabetes
Of the 34.1 million people in the U.S. who have diabetes, 7.3 million of those cases are undiagnosed. (That’s more than 21% of total cases!) Could you have diabetes and not know it? If you’re showing one or more of the following signs, it’s important to talk to your doctor.
- Increased Thirst
- Frequent Urination
- Increased Hunger
- Increased Fatigue
- Numbness or Tingling in Hands or Feet
- Sores That Won’t Heal
- Blurred Vision
Lowering Your Risk of (and Managing) Diabetes
Working toward a healthy weight is an important part of managing (or preventing) type 2 diabetes. Physical activity and diet play a critical role in weight loss. And while these can be challenging for a lot of people, the truth is that making small adjustments to your routine, knowing how to eat better (without spending more or going hungry) and following through every day can have a dramatic impact on your weight and your overall health.
Not sure where to start? At OVYVO, we provide our patients with a variety of proven, non-surgical weight loss solutions. We combine medical weight loss strategies and tools, like FDA-approved prescription medications, with effective behavior modification plans, sensible diet and nutrition plans, weight loss counseling and ongoing support to give you your best shot at lasting success!
Call now to schedule an appointment: 1-888-WTLOSS1