Can obesity lead to diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition characterised by chronic high blood glucose levels i.e. hyperglycemia due to the body’s failure to produce sufficient insulin to regulate high blood sugar levels. There are two main types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes often occurs in children or adolescents, due to the body’s inability to make insulin. Type 2 diabetes is caused by insulin resistance as a result of the body’s inability to react properly to insulin. Type 2 diabetes is more prevalent than type 1 diabetes and is therefore seen in a colossal number among all the diabetes cases. Type 2 diabetes is largely detected after the age of forty, nevertheless, it is now diagnosed in all age ranges, including children and adolescents.


Obesity is the cause

The relationship between obesity and diabetes is very interdependent that the term ‘diabesity’ has been coined. The translation from obesity to diabetes is ensured by a progressive failure in insulin secretion along with a drastic rise in insulin resistance. Both insulin resistance and defective insulin secretion appear very prematurely in obese patients and ends up in diabetes.


Being overweight strains the insides of individual cells. Specifically, overeating traumatises the membranous network inside of cells called the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). When the ER has more nutrients to handle than its ability, it sends out an alarm signal asking the cell to dampen down the insulin receptors on the surface of the cell. This translates to insulin resistance and to persistently high absorptions of the sugar glucose in the blood – one of the sure markers of diabetes.


Inflammatory response

Abdominal fat causes fat cells to secrete ‘pro-inflammatory’ chemicals, which turns the body less sensitive to the insulin it produces by disturbing the function and ability of insulin-responsive cells to respond to insulin. This phenomenon is what is commonly known as insulin resistance – the hallmark of type 2 diabetes. Having excess fat around your waistline is known as central or abdominal obesity, principally a high-risk form of obesity.


Disruption in fat metabolism

Obesity also triggers changes in the body’s metabolism. These changes cause fat tissue (adipose tissue) to release fat molecules into the person’s bloodstream, which in turn affect insulin-responsive cells and lead to reduced insulin sensitivity. In fact, many researchers have understood the pattern more closely and concluded that obesity leads to pre-diabetes, a metabolic condition that most certainly always matures into type 2 diabetes.


Preventing obesity

Diabetes is potentially dangerous as it is a leading cause of blindness (diabetic retinopathy), end-stage kidney diseases (diabetic nephropathy) and non-traumatic amputations of lower limbs (diabetic neuropathy) in working-age adults. People with diabetes are also found two to four times more vulnerable to suffer from cardiovascular complications and strokes.


The relation between obesity and type 2 diabetes is evident – without the incorporation of a healthy diet and regular exercise; obesity can lead to type 2 diabetes over a relatively short period of time.


But the good news is that diabetes is largely avoidable. As mentioned above, lifestyle changes and cutting down body weight by 5-10% can delay or sometimes prevent the development of type 2 diabetes among high-risk adults. Regulated diet and moderate to intense physical activity such as walking for 30 minutes for 4-5 days per week were can be a great boon in this process.

March 06, 2019

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