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What is the Connection Between Type 2 Diabetes and Obesity?

By B. Koch
Updated May 17, 2024
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Type 2 diabetes and obesity are connected in a number of ways. The majority of individuals with type 2 diabetes are obese, although the exact reason why this is the case is unclear. Type 2 diabetes and obesity can be prevented or improved through healthy eating and regular exercise.

Type 2 diabetes, also known as adult onset or non–insulin-dependent diabetes, affects many individuals and can be a serious condition. It occurs when the body is not making enough insulin or has become resistant to insulin, either of which allows the body’s glucose levels to rise too high. Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include age and family history, and those who are overweight or do not exercise regularly are especially at risk.

The direct connection between type 2 diabetes and obesity is not entirely clear. Some scientists think that overeating and an excess of calories put stress on the body’s systems and that the insulin receptors in the body become less sensitive over time. It is also suspected that type 2 diabetes and obesity are correlated because obesity causes inflammation in the body due to chronic elevated levels of fat in the blood, which can also interfere with glucose transport through the body.

The risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases significantly as an individual’s weight increases. Nearly 90% of the individuals with type 2 diabetes suffer from obesity. As obesity has begun to affect individuals at earlier ages, type 2 diabetes is being seen in young adults and children, although historically, it has only occurred in older adults.

Uncontrolled type 2 diabetes and obesity can lead to a number of health problems. Excess glucose in the blood can reduce the effectiveness of blood vessels. Decreased blood circulation to certain parts of the body may result in damage to the eyes, feet, hands and nerves. The health risks of chronic obesity include higher risk for cancers, arthritis, and heart disease.

Type 2 diabetes and obesity can be prevented or managed in a number of ways. Maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly to stay at a healthy weight can greatly reduce one’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Losing excess weight can reduce the symptoms of type 2 diabetes, and studies show that regular exercise can significantly lower insulin resistance. Exercising regularly, consuming less sugar and eating more healthy foods also lowers blood sugar levels.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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