India has become the capital of diabetes and also ranks 3rd in Asian obesity ranking(according to a recent study published in The Lancet titled, “Global, regional, and national prevalence of overweight and obesity in children and adults during 1980-2013: A systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013.”). So we have become the leading country in terms of our health deterioration. Prevalence of diabetes has increased in Indian population because majority of it is overweight or obese for a long time. And losing weight has become an essential in treatment of diabetes.
Is extra weight a cause of diabetes?
Yes, it is. The major and most common cause of diabetes (regardless of its type) is being overweight or obese. Overweight means you are 10-15% more of your ideal body weight and obesity means you are more than 15% of your ideal body weight.
There are 70-80% chances of developing diabetes if you are more than your ideal body weight for a longer period of time. The people who are obese from very early ages of their life are also risked for getting type-2 diabetes in early 40s or in today’s case, even 30s.
How does extra weight cause diabetes?
Let us all know the mechanism of development of diabetes. Diabetes or high blood sugar generally occurs when there is lack of insulin action in our body. Insulin is a hormone which helps in the transport of glucose molecules from our intestines to our cells where cells utilise glucose as a source of energy. So the blood glucose level is maintained. Whenever there is lack of insulin production or supply or action, the glucose cannot reach the cells and it starts increasing in your blood.
There is also a term called insulin resistance where there is enough production of insulin but cells can’t take up or interact with insulin due to certain reasons. Then also glucose levels increase in blood.
Now let’s see how weight aids in insulin resistance. Extra weight is equal to extra fat in the body. Now this extra fat also creates a layer on our normal cells leaving them resistant to insulin. Let’s say, cell is a lock and insulin is a key, and fat acts as a wax seal on lock which the key can’t open. So the glucose uptake by our cells is hampered and that’s why there is continuous high level of glucose in the blood which then eventually is reported as diabetes.
Also extra weight is a result of eating extra calories than needed. And generally extra carbohydrates are a cause of weight gain, so high carb diet will lead to high glucose levels in body because carbs are broken down to glucose molecules so that our body can utilise them.
Something about pre-diabetes
Prediabetes is a condition where your blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be classified as type-2 diabetes. But without proper health care it is likely to become type-2 diabetes in 10 years or less. If you have prediabetes, the long-term damage of diabetes, especially to your heart and circulatory system may already be starting.
The symptoms of prediabetes are not usually seen, but they appear if you have progressed to type -2 diabetes, increased urination, thirst, hunger, feeling of numbness, lethargy,
A wrong lifestyle and excess weight plays a major role in development of pre-diabetic situation. However, it is an opportunity to you to improve your health and to not get diabetes in future. Prediabetic conditions can be cured with healthy eating, physical activity and behavioural modifications.
How will weight loss help in treating diabetes?
Reducing weight will reduce fat percentage in the body, so the fat coating around cells will get reduced and that is how glucose uptake by cells will improve. It will also improve insulin activity.
Weight loss is achieved by eating healthy foods and exercising. Aerobic exercises like walking, jogging, swimming, cycling increases glucose uptake by cells and it also improves insulin resistance. Exercise also increases insulin production in case of type-1 diabetics.
There are various studies which show that people who do regular medium to high intensity exercise with minimum 45 minutes have shown drop in sugar levels and those who are non-diabetic have shown to have very low risk of developing it.
So weight loss for diabetics is a way to treat their high sugar levels. It will also make you feel more energetic and active.