McMaster Diabetes Association (MDA)
Obesity and Diabetes: What’s the Connection?
Written by: Muhammad Ans
Edited by: Susanna Fang
‘Being obese puts you at a greater risk of developing diabetes.’ We have all heard this before. Recently, it has been discussed that obesity may be more harmful than we originally thought as it can be a risk factor for developing diabetes. In this blog post, we will discuss the true connection between obesity and diabetes.
What’s Diabesity? It’s when an individual has diabetes and obesity at the same time. Although this is not an official diagnosis, it has recently been under evaluation. Research has revealed that ‘diabesity’ can greatly increase your risk of heart disease. In fact, diabesity is a disease that has been shown to have an enormously negative impact on the body in the long run. Experts say that diabesity is a silent disease that can damage your body if it's not controlled, regardless of if you feel fine or not.
Now back to the main question: What’s the connection between obesity and diabetes? Research has revealed that obesity can cause diabetes. Although the exact mechanism is complicated, essentially what happens is that your cells resist letting glucose into them. The same thing happens to your liver, which is the storage site of glucose, it resists the entrance of glucose. This occurs due to the excess fat that takes up the empty space in your cells and in the liver. This is much like fitting passengers into a car that is already full, there is simply no more space. As a result of this, your pancreas begins to work overtime to secrete more insulin to make sure that glucose gets to where it needs to be. Continuous glucose resistance means more insulin secretion causing an overworked pancreas. In extreme cases, the pancreas fails as a result of overstress and is unable to secrete insulin which causes diabetes.
Now, what does this mean? Does being slightly out of shape mean you will develop diabetes? No, this is not the case. Being obese on its own does not guarantee a diagnosis of diabetes. However, it does put you at a 6 times greater risk of developing the disease. Managing your weight has always been important and diabetes is a perfect example of how obesity can have major implications on your health.
Getting out of your comfort zone can be challenging for many of us. However, it is important that we adopt a healthy diet and continue to stay physically active. This may seem like hard work, however, it is definitely worth it in preventing complications of uncontrolled diseases such as diabetes.
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Klein, S., Gastaldelli, A., Yki-Järvinen, H., & Scherer, P. E. (2022). Why does obesity cause diabetes? Cell Metabolism, 34(1), 11–20. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2021.12.012