One of the most talked about consequences of obesity today is the development of diabetes. In fact researchers have coined a new term for this association: diabesity. According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control, diabetes has officially reached epidemic proportions. Over 17 million Americans have diabetes, which represents a 49 percent increase in the past decade!
The two main forms of diabetes are Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 diabetes is also known as insulin-dependent diabetes because the body loses the ability to produce insulin, leaving the individual reliant on regular injections of insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. This form of diabetes typically develops early in life, but it may also occur secondary to uncontrolled or advanced Type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes, which is also known as non-insulin dependent diabetes, is strongly associated with obesity, inactive and consuming a poor diet. This form of diabetes was previously associated with aging, but we are seeing it occur in many youth and children today because of their greater propensity toward obesity, lack of activity and poor eating habits.
The link between obesity and diabetes is quite strong – over 60 percent of people with Type 2 diabetes are obese. The reason for this is that obesity leads to the development of a condition called insulin resistance. Insulin is the hormone that is released from the pancreas in response to elevated blood sugar. When we eat, our food is broken down and digested, and the sugar that is absorbed from our meal causes our blood sugar level to rise. Insulin works to bring sugar (glucose) into the cell where it is used for energy, thus lowering our blood sugar.
With insulin resistance, the body fails to respond properly to the insulin it already produces. As a result, blood sugar levels stay elevated and the body produces even more insulin in attempt to bring the sugar levels down. Yet, because the body is resistant to insulin, it is not able to lower blood sugar; therefore, it remains high. It is this inability to regulate blood sugar and insulin levels that is characteristic of Type 2 diabetes.
Researchers agree, the more you suffer from obesity, the greater your chances of diabetes. This information should be taken as an incentive – to make the move today to work on developing a leaner, healthier body.