Obesity and diabetes are two distinct chronic health conditions. However, they’re both closely connected. Your risk of developing diabetes increases as your weight goes up.
At MS Family Medicine Health Care PC, with New York City offices in Rosedale and Garden City, our team of family medicine practitioners, led by medical director Michele Reed, DO, FAAFP, take a proactive approach to health, focusing on wellness and preventative care.
We understand the link between obesity and diabetes, and we help our patients take steps to control their weight so they can improve their health. In this blog, we explain the connection between obesity and diabetes.
The basics of diabetes
In a normal situation, your body turns the foods you eat into glucose, or blood sugar. Then, insulin, which is produced by your pancreas, takes the blood sugar and moves it into the cells of your body to provide energy.
If you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make insulin (Type 1 diabetes) or your body isn’t able to properly use the insulin it does produce (Type 2 diabetes). The end result is that glucose stays in your blood and builds up, which can lead to many health complications — such as nerve damage, kidney disease, and heart disease — if the condition isn’t treated.
Type 2 diabetes is significantly more common than Type 1 diabetes, and Type 2 diabetes is the type linked with obesity. With Type 2 diabetes, the cells become resistant to insulin, which is known as insulin resistance. This means the cells no longer respond to insulin, and the glucose remains in the blood instead of moving into the cells.
The body reacts to this elevation in blood sugar by producing even more insulin. Over time, the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas burn out, insulin production declines, and blood glucose levels rise even higher.
The link between obesity and diabetes
Obesity is the excessive accumulation of fat on the body to the point that it affects health. When the body has too many fat cells, it must process more nutrients than it can manage. This triggers the release of the protein cytokine, which causes inflammation.
Cytokines also block the insulin receptors on the cells, blocking insulin from moving glucose from the blood into the cells. Over time, the cells can become insulin resistant, which can lead to higher than normal blood glucose levels and Type 2 diabetes.
People with obesity are six times more likely to develop diabetes than people at a normal weight.
Breaking the link
Obesity and diabetes are two separate health issues that require two distinct treatment plans. However, both medical conditions can improve with weight loss.
Losing weight at a moderate, sustainable rate can significantly improve insulin function and blood glucose levels. And you can lose weight and keep it off by eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly.
Because we know the struggles many people face when trying to lose weight on their own, we offer nutritional counseling at our practice. We also regularly screen for diabetes during primary care visits.
If you have higher than normal blood glucose levels, but they’re not high enough for diabetes, you have prediabetes. When diagnosed with prediabetes, you have a chance to prevent it from turning into Type 2 diabetes. We recommend the same interventions for treating prediabetes as we do for treating obesity and Type 2 diabetes: lose weight, eat a balanced diet, and exercise regularly.
Whether you’re struggling with your weight, diabetes, or both, we can help you take back control of your health. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with MS Family Medicine Health Care PC today.