The Link Between Obesity and Diabetes

Dec 15, 2022
Obesity and diabetes are major health problems that affect millions of Americans. Understanding the association between these two medical issues can help you play a more proactive role in your health, so you can avoid complications.

Obesity and diabetes are two major health problems affecting millions of Americans. In fact, about 42% of Americans suffer from obesity and more than 11% have diabetes (mostly Type 2 diabetes).

While different factors can cause or contribute to both medical problems, the two conditions are also linked, and people who are obese have a much higher chance of developing diabetes. In fact, the link between the two is so common, it’s earned its own nickname: diabesity.

As a leading primary care practice in Alexandria and Lansdowne, Virginia, CN Internal Medicine helps patients manage both conditions, tailoring treatment plans to every person’s unique needs and health profile. 

If you have either obesity or diabetes — or both — here’s what you should know about the connection between the two conditions.

Diabetes and obesity: Understanding the link

Type 2 diabetes develops when your body doesn’t produce enough of a hormone called insulin to keep blood sugar (under control). Typically, your pancreas secretes insulin, which transports glucose to specific areas of your body, like your muscles for energy or your liver for storage.

If you’re obese, your cells develop a resistance that prevents insulin from moving glucose into them. At the same time, fat cells form in your liver, decreasing the storage area that’s usually reserved for excess glucose. 

The result: All of the extra glucose that can’t be absorbed or stored stays in your blood. Your pancreas senses the extra blood sugar and responds by producing more insulin. 

Over time, your pancreas tires out and decreases insulin production, a critical step that leads to diabetes (or a worsening of symptoms if you already have the disease).

While this cycle can occur in anyone, it tends to be more common among people who carry most of their extra weight around their midsection. The more excess weight you’re carrying, the greater your risk of developing diabetes or its complications.

Managing “diabesity”

Many people with diabetes need to use synthetic insulin, medicine that replaces the insulin the pancreas is no longer producing. If diabetes continues to progress, you might need more than one medicine, or you can develop complications, like kidney failure, vision loss, or heart disease.

The good news: Weight loss can reduce the effects of diabetes, and you don’t have to lose a huge amount of weight to see a difference. A loss of just 5%-10% can result in a significant reduction in diabetes risk, and if you have diabetes, it can improve your symptoms and reduce your reliance on insulin.

In addition to providing comprehensive diabetes management plans, we offer nutrition services aimed at helping you make important dietary decisions that can help you lose weight and manage your glucose levels naturally. 

After working with you to develop your personal nutrition plan, we provide ongoing support to help you reach your goals and stay healthy.

Make your health a priority

Both diabetes and obesity are serious medical problems that increase your risks of life-threatening complications, like heart disease and stroke. Fortunately, you can manage your condition and reduce your risks, but you need to act quickly. 

Take the first step: Schedule a visit to discuss your options. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with our team at CN Internal Medicine today.