The Link Between Obesity and Diabetes


It’s official: the CDC says that nearly one-tenth of Americans have diabetes, and an additional third have prediabetes — meaning that if they don’t get treatment, they could develop Type 2 diabetes in the next five years.

Even worse are the numbers surrounding obesity: nearly a third of adults in the United States are obese (medically defined as having a body mass index of 30 or more). When you look at instances of overlap, the real link becomes evident — almost two-thirds of adults with Type 2 diabetes are also obese.  

At Prima Medicine in Fairfax, Virgina, our team of primary care specialists focuses on preventive and remedial care to help patients avoid obesity and diabetes, and minimize the effects of either or both conditions when needed.   

What causes T2 diabetes?

Type 2 (T2) diabetes often, but not always, runs in families. If you have a family history of diabetes or have experienced gestational diabetes during pregnancy, your risk for T2 is much higher than average. 

With T2 diabetes, your pancreas can still make the normal amount of insulin (unlike T1 diabetics who don’t produce insulin.) However, it may be working harder than usual, and it can slow the production of insulin or stop producing the hormone altogether over time if your diabetes isn’t controlled. 

Alternately, your blood cells may develop insulin resistance, meaning they don’t allow the insulin that’s present to enter the cell to process sugars properly. In either case, diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes is usually made if your blood sugar stays high longer than two hours after eating, or is high in the morning when you wake up.   

What causes obesity?

Obesity has multiple causes and can’t be attributed simply to “laziness” or “overeating,” although inactivity and poor food choices can contribute. Genes that make it easy to gain weight and harder to lose it can be a factor; children of parents with obesity are more likely to suffer from obesity themselves. Poverty can also play a large part, as healthier foods are less available for poorer segments of the population.  

Other medical factors can contribute to metabolic syndrome, which means fatigue and the inability to burn off fat. This can often be spotted with blood testing that reveals poor blood lipid profiles along with high blood glucose readings in combination with high blood pressure.

If you suffer from obesity or have metabolic syndrome, you are at higher risk for insulin resistance. If you have uncontrolled diabetes, you can find yourself gaining weight and facing obesity. It can be hard to figure out which condition caused the other in patients who are fighting both. However, for people who only have one condition, dealing with their current health issues can help prevent adding to their concerns.

At Prima Medicine locations in Fairfax and South Riding, Virginia, our team can help you by diagnosing any existing health issues and making a treatment plan to help you manage your condition(s) and prevent any future problems. If you have diabetes, you can learn how to avoid weight gain, and if you are already overweight, you can learn how to lose weight safely and avoid developing insulin resistance.

To learn more about the link between obesity and diabetes, call one of our convenient office locations or use our scheduling tool to book an appointment online. 

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