The Link Between Obesity and Diabetes

Over 30 million Americans have diabetes, and about 1.5 million new cases are diagnosed annually, contributing to over a quarter-million deaths each year. Type 2 diabetes occurs when your body still manufactures insulin, but becomes resistant to its effects. About 80% of those with Type 2 diabetes are obese, so a connection between diabetes and obesity was long suspected, even though only a small portion of obese people ever develop diabetes.

Here’s what we at Wasatch Peak Family Practice want you to know about the link between obesity and diabetes.

The effects of high blood sugar

As your body becomes insulin-resistant, glucose levels in your blood start to rise. High blood sugar can damage blood vessels and nerves, and it results in wide-ranging damage to your body, such as heart and kidney issues, nerve damage in your feet, and vision issues that can lead to blindness.

Though the effects of blood sugar have long been understood, the reasons why insulin resistance develops only in some obese patients wasn’t known. A 2017 study by the University of Texas Southwestern discovered a previously unexpected issue with the delivery of insulin to muscle tissue.

Delivery of insulin

Insulin normally stimulates the cells of your body to accept blood glucose as the fuel on which cells run. Obesity causes chemical changes to components of the antibodies that circulate in your blood, protecting you from various infections. These changes to immunoglobulins interfere with an enzyme that’s critical to the transfer of insulin from bloodstream to muscle tissue.

Researchers found that injecting human immunoglobulins from a Type 2 diabetic into mice caused the mice to also become diabetic. The study also identified a way to block the chemical changes in mice, and work continues on a similar process for human trials. The breakthrough may lead to new ways to screen, prevent, or treat Type 2 diabetes.

The obesity risk factor

In the meantime, having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher is the most significant risk factor for developing Type 2 diabetes. Chances of developing the condition are 80 times higher when compared to people with BMIs under 22.

Currently, the best strategy for Type 2 diabetes prevention is through weight loss prior to the start of insulin resistance. If you have prediabetes or diabetes, you can help control your blood sugar by reducing your body mass, though you may need medication as well to keep your blood sugar levels under control. 

It’s sometimes possible for prediabetics and diabetics to put the condition into remission with careful management.

Diabetes management

Because of the wide scope of effects of high blood sugar on your body, it’s common to develop a diabetes management team that may include your primary care physician and specialists like an internist, cardiologist, ophthalmologist, and foot care specialist to assure that you’re not suffering from the effects of high glucose levels.

Wasatch Peak Family Practice is the place to start if you’re newly diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Depending on the condition of your blood sugar, the Wasatch Peak team can help you develop a lifestyle program that aids insulin control and weight loss, supplementing these changes with medication as needed. Call the office or request an appointment online to book your consultation. Controlling your weight and Type 2 diabetes is possible, so get started today. 

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