~Diabetes and Obesity


A DNA Link between Diabetes and Obesity

There is no known reason for what causes diabetes.  There are certainly risk factors that 

make the likelihood of you being diagnosed with the disease higher.  One of the only risk 

factors that you have control over is your weight.  If you are obese, the single best thing 

you can do for your health and the prevention of diabetes is to lose weight.  Even in small 

increments, when you shed pounds you are increasing your health benefits.

These may be easier said than done.  There are new studies that are now showing that 

there is a genetic factor or mutation for people who are obese and have diabetes.  This 

genetic malfunction affects how the bodies use energy and insulin – two key elements in 

the functioning of your body and the cause of diabetes and obesity.

The studies also state that this is not a cause and effect case.  If you carry this defective 

gene you are not guaranteed to be obese or have diabetes.  But the link is there and it can 

be prevented.  You may have to work harder at it than others to maintain a healthy body 

weight and put off diabetes but it can be done.  Discuss with your doctor options and 

ways to prevent or put-off the onset of diabetes.

The gene that researchers have discovered as a precursor to diabetes has been found in 

young children.  It is scary to know that children in their preschool years are being 

diagnosed with obesity and type 2 diabetes due to genetics.  But parents can reduce or 

prevent these things from happening by giving their children healthy lifestyle choices.  

Now that a DNA link has been found, the research can focus on finding a way to fix or 

prevent this from happening at some point in the future.

A Healthy BMI for Diabetics

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a calculation that is based on your height and weight to 

determine if you are underweight, an ideal weight, overweight, or obese.  The test is an 

indication of the total body fat that you are carrying around.  The number ranges are 

fairly accurate but there are some circumstances when the calculations may not be 100% 

true.  As these results are purely based on numbers, you should take the number you are 

given and discuss other contributing factors with your doctor (such as muscle weight or 

body type considerations).

A BMI of 30 or over is considered obese.  The higher end of the scale for overweight 

people (25 – 29.9) and people that fall into the obese category are at an increased risk for 

developing type 2 diabetes.  Other danger indicators are waist circumferences.  If you are 

a man and your waist measures 40 inches or more and if you are a woman and your waist 

measures 35 inches or more, there is an increased abdominal fat risk factor for diabetes 

and other diseases.  

Maintaining a healthy BMI is all about being at a weight that is right for your height and 

body type.  Both of these goals will bring many more benefits than just better controlled 

blood glucose levels.  You will also have increased energy, can reduce the amount of 

insulin you are on, and give yourself a longer life expectancy.

Reduce your total body fat to bring your BMI into a healthy range (18.5-24.9).  Consult 

your doctor and get advice on how to meet your goals.  And if you are just starting an 

exercise routine, get the okay from your doctor first.  You do not want to overtax yourself 

at the beginning and your doctor may have some restrictions for you to ensure you do not 

suffer from injury or hypoglycemia.

Childhood Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes

When a child is diagnosed with diabetes it is commonly referred to as juvenile diabetes or 

type 1 diabetes.  This type of diabetes is not related to a child’s lifestyle, it is an 

autoimmune disease that results in the need for insulin injections for food to be turned 

into energy properly.  In recent years there have been an increased number of children 

that have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.  This is an alarming trend and one that can 

be mitigated because the link between children and type 2 diabetes is childhood obesity.

As it is fairly new that children are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes there isn’t a lot 

of information or studies on it presently.  But what is known is that parents need to take 

action immediately.  Once a child has been diagnosed at an older age there isn’t much 

that can be done except to manage the disease.  But if a younger child is obese and makes 

healthy lifestyle changes that result in weight loss there is a chance that type 2 diabetes 

can be avoided.

Some of the early warning signs that your child may have diabetes include:

* A sudden increase in thirst that appears to never be satiated

* An increased need to urinate

* Dark patches on the skin – usually found in the folds of the skin, around the neck 

or around the eyes

As there are many other diseases and complications that can arise if your child is obese it 

is best to seek medical help for your child.  Between you and your health care 

professional, a plan can be made and put into place that will start your child on the road 

to a healthier weight and more active lifestyle.  Your child may be resistant at first but by 

involving them in the process and persistence the changes can be made.

Combining Food to Control Diabetes and Reduce Obesity

As a diabetic who is trying to lose weight, it is not only important what you eat and how 

much but what you eat together too.  Foods react differently together and for optimal 

performance and the best affect on your blood glucose level there are a few guidelines 

that should be followed.

At each meal you should have a combination of carbohydrates and protein and you can 

have fat in moderation.  The majority of the foods a diabetic will eat fall under the 

carbohydrate category, carbohydrates can be found in:

* Fruits

* Vegetables

* Beans

* Dairy Products

* Bread

* Grains

To reduce blood sugars and lose weight, a diet where carbohydrates are counted and 

controlled is necessary.  Depending on your weight and height your dietician will provide 

you with a number of carbohydrates that you can have at each meal.  Some carbohydrates 

are better choices than others; choose fresh and whole wheat whenever possible.

Choosing carbohydrates that are high in fiber can help to reduce your blood glucose 

levels and will keep you feeling full for longer.  Higher fiber content allows you to eat 

more an item without suffering the consequences later on.

At each meal, a small amount of protein will help counter-act the carbohydrate’s affect of 

raising blood sugars.  Protein will also sustain you longer and you will not be hungry as 

quickly if you did not have protein at one of your meals or for snack.  Choose high-

quality protein that is not fried.  Remove excess fat when it is possible such as chicken 

skin before eating.

Following a healthy eating plan with the correct number of carbohydrates at each meal 

combine with a protein can help you lose weight and manage your diabetes.  Make time 

for exercising in your week too and you are sure to lose weight and have more energy. 

Diabetes and Obesity can Cause Depression

Many people suffer from depression at some point in their lives and people with diabetes 

are no exception.  If you are obese and have type 2 diabetes you may blame yourself and 

your lifestyle on the disease you now have.  It is hard to adjust to a new lifestyle.  Feeling 

down or guilty about this is okay and even normal but if it turns into something more you 

need to seek professional help.

It is normal to feel down about having diabetes in the beginning but once you learn more 

about the disease and how to control it you can also feel more in control of your life 

again.  Take charge, if you are obese and want to improve your blood glucose levels you 

can.  By eating a healthy diet and regular exercise you can lose weight and improve your 

blood sugars.

If your feeling of being down or hopeless will not go away and is accompanied by any of 

the following as well you may be depressed.  If this is the case, contact your doctor right 


Signs of depression:

* You are no longer sleeping like you used to (more or less)

* Not enjoying life or everyday activities like you used to

* No energy to do things you want or have to do

* You are eating more or less or have sudden weight gain or loss

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms you seek help.  Being obese and diabetic 

can be trying both mentally and physically.  It is important to know that you can take 

action to make things better.  Your diabetes may never go away but you can certainly 

keep it under control and live a full life.  By losing weight, even a small amount, you can 

make a huge difference in your health and diabetes. 

Exercise and Diabetes

When you are a diabetic, exercise is will help control your blood sugar levels.  But if you 

are overweight or obese and diabetic, exercise will also help you lose weight.  As a 

diabetic, there are additional considerations and precautions that you need to take before 

you begin an exercise routine.  And once you have begun, you always need to be aware 

of the risks involved.

It is ideal to wait before your exercise if your blood glucose level is too low or high.  You 

can do more damage than good if you do not.  It is especially dangerous if your blood 

sugar is on the low side and you begin to exercise.  The physical exertion can cause your 

blood sugar to drop even further which can become an emergency situation.  As a 

precaution, if you are exercising at a gym make sure the staff are aware of your condition 

and have emergency instructions and numbers to call.  If you walk or run on your own 

outside, keep identification on you that advises you are diabetic along with contact phone 

numbers, a snack, and instructions.

For other tips on exercising with diabetes, you can follow the same guidelines that make 

sense for everyone else.  Stretch before and after exercising, drink plenty of fluids, and 

don’t push yourself too hard.  It is a smart idea to check your blood sugars before and 

after exercising and if you are feeling light-headed during your work-out check it then 


As feet problems are common in diabetics, wear proper footwear and socks.  If you 

notice any sores on your feet that are not going away on their own, see your doctor.  If 

they are not healing they can lead to an infection and other related complications.  Even 

though there are risks involved to exercising, the benefits make it worth it. 

High Blood Pressure in Obese Diabetics

High blood pressure is a concern for anyone but people with diabetics are more likely to 

suffer from it than others.  If you are obese and diabetic, a high blood pressure can be 

deadly leading to a fatal heart attack.  Like many health risks associated with diabetes, 

good control of your blood sugars, a healthy diet and physical activity can help to keep 

your blood pressure in check.

If you are suffering from a headache, your vision is blurry and you feel light headed or 

dizzy you may have high blood pressure.  These symptoms are not just indicative of high 

blood pressure though and you should seek medical attention to determine the cause.  

Other times there may be no symptoms at all when you have high blood pressure or it 

may be slightly elevated.  It is smart to have your blood pressure routinely checked at 

your doctor’s appointments.

When you are obese, the most effective way to reduce your blood pressure is to lose 

weight.  Follow a meal plan that works for your diabetes, making sure you are consuming 

enough food, and can still allow you to lose weight.  Other changes that you can make 

that will improve your blood pressure are:

* An exercise routine that is followed on a regular basis

* Reducing stress in your life – mediation, yoga, letting go of some responsibilities

* Quit smoking 

* Lessen the amount of salt you use for cooking or on your food

While you are making lifestyle changes to lower your blood pressure your doctor may 

decide to put your on medication.  If you have to take blood pressure medication it does 

not have to be forever.  You can look at it as a short-term fix while you make the changes 

necessary to lower your blood pressure on your own.

Kidney Problems in Diabetics who are Obese

Both diabetics and obesity are linked to kidney failure.  There are many people who are 

both diabetic and obese and they have an increased risk of being diagnosed with serious 

kidney problems that lead to dialysis or the need for a transplant.  Kidney failure and 

damage in a diabetic patient is known as diabetic nephropathy.

The kidneys’ job is to clean the blood but when the blood has excess sugar (glucose) 

present it causes damage to the kidneys.  This damage can happen even before someone 

knows they are diabetic or if they are not diabetic bur are considered obese.  High blood 

sugars that are present in the bodies of obese people and diabetics are a problem to these 

organs and other functions in body.

There really aren’t any symptoms for the early signs of kidney damage.  You probably 

will not know that it is occurring unless your doctor performs a test to check for protein 

in your urine (done with a dip stick in the office).  If the doctor finds the presence of 

protein it will be closely monitored depending on the amount of protein present.  During 

the beginning stages of diabetic nephropathy the kidneys are still able to function and do 

their job of cleaning the blood.  Action will need to be taken to get blood glucose levels 

under control to prevent further damage to the kidneys.

If your kidneys fail you are at risk for high blood pressure and the build-up of toxins in 

your blood because the kidneys are not able to filter them out.  The two options available 

at this point are dialysis or a kidney transplant.  Dialysis is a method to clean your blood 

using an external machine you are hooked up to that your blood is run through and then 

put back in your body 

Losing Weight and Controlling Blood Sugar

If you are a diabetic and are overweight or considered clinically obese, you can improve 

your overall health and the management of your diabetes by losing weight.  It may seem 

like an overwhelming goal if you have tried in the past to lose weight and have failed.  

But there are steps you can take and support you can utilize to help you reach your goals.

The first step to losing weight is to set a short-term goal for yourself.  You can do this on 

your own but can also get help from your doctor or a dietician.  A good goal when 

starting to lose weight is to take a small percentage of your overall weight and aim to lose 

that much in your time frame.  For instance, if you weigh 200 pounds aim to lose weight 

5% of your body weight to begin (10 pounds).  When you lose weight as a diabetic you 

are helping your body by lessening your insulin requirements.  Weight loss will also 

assist you in keeping your blood sugar levels under control.

Another method to lose weight is physical activity and exercise.  Getting your body 

moving will increase your metabolism and that act will assist in losing weight too.  Not 

only will increased metabolism aid in weight loss, it will also help in controlling blood 

glucose levels.  Your body will be processing food more efficiently.

Diet and exercise go hand-in-hand with weight loss.  It also takes patience and time but 

as you begin the road to weight loss the benefits you will derive as a diabetic will begin 

right away.  And as you reach your goal weight you will gain better control of your blood 

sugars.  If you are having difficulty losing weight on your own, speak to your doctor 

about other options that are available to you such as medication or possibly surgery. 

Metabolic Problems Linked with Obesity and Diabetes

If you are considered obese, especially with an above average amount of abdominal fat 

and are insulin resistant, you may have what is known as metabolic syndrome.  It is 

important to note that you can be insulin resistance and not actually have diabetes – yet.  

If you are insulin resistant you may be what is termed pre-diabetes.

If you are insulin resistant, your body is not using the insulin your pancreas is producing 

effectively.  Your pancreas will continue to produce more and more insulin but your body 

will not use it and cannot derive the energy from the food you eat.  This condition can be 

passed on from another member of the family but it is also caused by obesity and 


As with diabetes, the risk factors for having metabolic problems – metabolic syndrome – 

are quite similar.  Age is a risk factor, the older you are the chances of having this are 

greater.  Almost half of the people with metabolic syndrome are over the age of 60 but 

symptoms have been seen in children and adults in their 20’s.  Another risk factor for 

having this syndrome is race, people from a Hispanic or Asian backgrounds are at a 

higher risk than others.    And as mentioned there is also the hereditary factory.

Being obese with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of over 25 is a factor too.  The difference 

with this factor from the others is that most people have an element of control over this.  

If they are able to lose weight and exercise they can reduce or eliminate this contributor 

towards metabolic syndrome.

If you are diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, your doctor will run screening tests for 

diabetes.  He or she will also recommend or put your on a program to lose weight through 

a healthy and balanced diet coupled with physical activity.  

Motivation to Lose Weight

When you are diabetic you have probably read in many places and have heard from your 

doctor how beneficial it is for you to lose weight.  But that doesn’t make it any easier to 

do.  It is difficult to do, but everyone is right; you will reap many benefits from losing 

weight including managing your diabetes and blood glucose levels.

If you are already motivated to lose weight and just don’t know where to begin, make an 

appointment with your doctor or diabetes educator.  They can provide you with 

information on a healthy eating plan and approve the type of exercises you should begin 

with.  Getting the okay from your doctor before starting any physical routine is a good 

idea so you do not over-do it at the beginning creating more harm than good.

If you have tried to lose weight before and know that it is a hard road, you may find the 

motivation you need through a support group.  Having a network to back you up when 

you are having a hard day or the commitment of meeting someone at the gym can get you 

through the rough patches ahead.

As you reach certain milestones in your weight loss journey set reward points for yourself 

as motivation.  You may decide to reward yourself when you lose 10 pounds or it might 

be going for a walk 5 times in one week – whatever you need help with.  Your reward 

can be anything that will make you work harder – renting a movie, a new pair of shoes – 

make it special.

As you continue to lose weight and become more active keep a careful eye on your blood 

sugars and insulin requirements.  You may find that you are requiring less insulin as you 

drop the pounds.  Keep in contact with your doctor and update him on your progress. 

Obesity and Pre-Diabetes

You can be diagnosed with pre-diabetes before you actually get diabetes.  In pre-diabetes 

you have higher than normal blood sugars but they are not at the level that they would 

need to be in order to be considered diabetic.  If you are obese or severely overweight and 

pre-diabetic there are steps you can take to put off the actual diagnosis of diabetes or 

prevent it.

The same test is used for pre-diabetes as it is for diabetes.  Once you find out that you 

have pre-diabetes you can make a plan with your doctor to prevent the onset of the 

disease.  By losing weight and either adding or increasing your level of physical activity 

you can delay diabetes for quite sometime.  There have been people who have gone on to 

maintain a healthy weight through diet and exercise and have remained in the pre-

diabetic phase for their lives.

If you are not able to get down to your goal weight, just losing a small amount can be 

beneficial.  It takes an additional strain off of your body by lessening the need of the 

amount of insulin that is produced.  There are many other benefits that you will also get 

by reducing your body weight including increased energy and cardiovascular health.

Most times, doctors do not test for diabetes unless there are risk factors present including 

age (over 45 years old).  But if you are considered obese, your doctor will probably order 

the appropriate glucose test each year at your physical examination to check for pre-

diabetes and diabetes.

There are not always symptoms present when you have pre diabetes.  But if you are 

experiencing any of the signs that could signal the full disease such as an increased thirst 

and need to urinate, make an appointment with your doctor for a check-up.

Support for Diabetics Struggling with Obesity

Everyone needs a little help now and then and shouldn’t be afraid to ask for it.  A newly 

diagnosed diabetic may feel overwhelmed with the restrictions that they are faced with 

and not knowing how to plan meals.  The support that is needed is from a dietician or 

nutritionist.  Depending on your goals and weight a dietician can provide you with a meal 

plan that will meat the criteria of a healthy diabetic diet and help you lose weight.

In the beginning, the concern with a diabetic diet is to make sure you are getting enough 

food so your blood sugar does not drop too low.  You will also want to monitor your 

levels to look for any spikes in your readings too.  A dietician can work with you on this.  

If you are eating the recommended diet plan and it is not working, you are feeling hungry 

afterwards or your blood sugar is too high – call your dietician.  He or she can work with 

you over the phone to make immediate changes and schedule an appointment to rework 

your plan.

Your dietician can also make recommendations on substitutions for your favorite foods 

that you were afraid you could never eat again.  They will educate you on portion sizes 

too.  There really isn’t too much that you can’t have as a diabetic as long as you are 

planning your meals out, getting exercise and eating in moderation.

Food guides change and your dietician or nutritionist will have the most up to date 

version.  Try and follow it and combine foods as you have been taught by your support 

team.  If you are unsure if something is allowable on your diabetic diet, call your 

dietician for advice and if you can’t reach them leave a message and hold off until you 

hear back from them. 

The Effects of Prolonged Hyperglycemia

Even before you are diagnosed with diabetes, if you are obese, your blood sugars are 

most likely elevated.  High blood sugar levels in a body over a prolonged period of time 

can have devastating affects on your body.  You may not be showing symptoms of high 

blood sugars but your doctor will most likely do a routine blood test if you are obese to 

check for pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes.

People can go for years or even decades with undiagnosed pre-diabetes or type 2 

diabetes.  Over this time, their blood glucose will be at above average range and this can 

due internal damage.  Once you find out that you are pre diabetic it is wise to change 

your lifestyle and eating habits to prevent the onset of diabetes. For people who have 

already been diagnosed with diabetes, they can still experience damage from 

hyperglycemia if they are not controlling their diabetes effectively.

Hyperglycemia that goes unchecked for a long period of time can cause kidney damage 

up to the point of kidney failure that will require dialysis or a transplant.  It also causes 

nerve damage, particularly to feet and the lower legs.  People suffering from 

hyperglycemia will heal slowly and will have intestinal problems including diarrhea and 

can have eye difficulties leading to eyesight problems.

As soon as you find out that you are diabetic, test your blood glucose regularly to keep an 

eye on your levels.  You will need to work closely with your health care team to bring 

your blood sugars under control.  You can lessen the effects of prolonged hyperglycemia 

by keeping your diabetes under control.  If you have not yet been diagnosed with diabetes 

but have been told you are pre-diabetic follow a healthy eating plan including plenty of 

physical activity to get healthier and keep your blood glucose levels in check. 

The Link between Obesity and Diabetes

There are two kinds of diabetes, type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes.  The first type is also 

known as juvenile diabetes and is usually diagnosed in childhood.  It is the body’s cells 

and the pancreas’ inability to produce enough insulin.  In type 2 diabetes there is not 

enough insulin produced for the body or the body is not making proper use of the insulin 

that is available.

Many studies and doctors have linked an increasing number of people being diagnosed 

with diabetes to obesity.  When a person is obese or very over weight they are overtaxing 

their pancreas (the organ that produces insulin) and this can lead to type 2 diabetes.  

Being obese is a risk factor for diabetes but it does not mean you will develop the disease 

if you are obese.  By losing weight and leading a healthier lifestyle you can gain control 

of this risk factor either by reducing it or eliminating it altogether.

There are other risk factors associated with type 2 diabetes including age and race but of 

course there is no control over these factors.  Studies have shown that over half of the 

people diagnosed with diabetes are considered clinically obese.  People who are obese 

and work hard to lose weight can better manage their diabetes through diet or oral 

medications instead of insulin injections.  Incorporating a healthy eating plan and regular 

physical activity will also help to manage the disease.

In addition to being at a higher risk for developing diabetes people who are obese are at 

an increased risk for other life-threatening diseases too.  Namely heart and cardiovascular 

diseases, it is in an individual’s best interest to maintain a healthy weight for their body 

type and health in order to reduce the risks to their health.  Medical support is available 

through your health care provider if needed.

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