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Type 2 Diabetes and Obesity

Type 2 Diabetes and Obesity

By now, everyone has heard about the link between Type 2 Diabetes and obesity. However, fewer people are aware of the reasons why carrying too much fat increases diabetes risk. And, although the “whys” are interesting, you’d also like some actionable information on diabetes management when you’re struggling with your weight.

Before we begin, let’s get the elephant out of the room. You can develop Type 2 Diabetes without being overweight or obese, but carrying too much weight increases your Diabetes risk. According to the NHS, obesity and type 2 diabetes statistics in the UK show that 80 to 85 percent of the risk of Type 2 Diabetes comes down to one factor: obesity. It’s not an unusual problem either. Research shows that around 25 percent of UK adults are obese.  

These are sobering statistics, so it’s worth understanding the problem of obesity and Type 2 Diabetes. You’d also like to know what to do if you have diabetes and are obese, or are concerned that your weight issue could lead to Diabetes later on. Let’s explore this topic together. 

What is Obesity?

Being obese means that you’re carrying a great deal too much body fat for your health. But how much fat is too much? It’s easy enough to find out. Obesity is determined by your Body Mass Index (BMI). To find out what your BMI is, all you need to know is your height and your weight. The NHS provides a handy online calculator that does the rest. 

A BMI of 30 and over means that you’re obese, while a BMI of 20 to 30 means you’re overweight. For a healthy weight, you need a score of 18.5 to 24.9, and it’s worth making an effort to work towards a healthy weight or to get as close to it as you possibly can. After all, it’s an investment in your health and longevity. 

How Does Obesity Cause Type 2 Diabetes?

Researchers are still working to pin down the reasons why obesity can cause Diabetes. Their work so far shows that fat cells, particularly tummy fat, give off chemicals that cause a form of inflammation. 

This, in turn, leads to a lowered sensitivity toward insulin. When your body produces insulin, it acts as a chemical messenger that tells cells to absorb glucose from your bloodstream, regulating blood sugar. So, with the messenger disabled, the message doesn’t get through, and out-of-control blood sugar levels become a potentially life-threatening problem. 

Besides inflammation, obesity may change your metabolism. Fatty tissues release more fat into your bloodstream, and once again, the cells that should respond to insulin become desensitised. 

While all this seems pretty gloomy, pre-diabetics and people with diabetes can take positive action. Evidence shows that sustained weight loss (losing weight and keeping it off) could mean that you need less medication and have a much easier time managing your blood sugar levels. There’s even evidence to suggest that in some cases, obese people who lose weight can overcome diabetes altogether.  

Preventing Obesity

If you have a healthy BMI, or just tend to be a little overweight, now is a good time to work on obesity prevention. There is no “magic bullet.” It all comes down to using a bit of commonsense and being mindful of diet and exercise. 

You should definitely avoid fad diets. Yo-yo dieting happens when people follow extreme diets, lose weight, and then gain it all back again as soon as they start eating normally. It can actually increase your chances of developing Type 2 Diabetes.  

Maintain a healthy weight, and promote healthy weight loss, by making a habit of eating nutritious, natural foods. Avoid refined foods like white flour and processed meats. Cut down on the red meat, and of course, reduce your sugar intake, or cut out sugar altogether. 

Getting more exercise will also help you. Modern lifestyles contribute to obesity and Type 2 Diabetes by making us more sedentary. Limit the amount of time you spend inactive, and make up for the physical inactivity of a typical office work day by taking a daily walk, riding a bike, or going to the gym three or four times a week.

Living With Type 2 Diabetes and Obesity

If you are obese and have Type 2 Diabetes, reducing your weight will help you to manage your condition. However, you will need to be extra cautious about your diet and the type of exercise you get. Consult your doctor about safe weight loss including both diet and exercise. 

When people are obese, the extra weight places stress on the joints, so high-impact exercise is off the cards until some of the weight comes off. But you can still do some low-impact exercise. Swimming and water exercises get first prize, but stationary bike riding and walking are safe for most people. 

There are also medical interventions like surgery that reduces the size of your stomach, allowing you to feel satisfied after eating less food. Once again, your doctor is the person to talk to. 

You Don’t Have to be a Statistic

According to the WHO’s obesity and Type 2 Diabetes statistics, Diabetes is the 9th leading cause of death in today’s world. But, as we’ve mentioned, managing your condition well could mean that you live as long, or nearly as long, as you would have without Diabetes. Although your diagnosis comes as a shock to you, there’s no need to give in to despair. Take extra care of yourself, and beat those statistics!

Having said that, nobody knows what tomorrow may bring, so be sure to take care of your family by choosing Diabetes-friendly life insurance. Most insurers charge higher premiums just because you have Diabetes. They’re looking at the statistics rather than the individual. Bluezone’s life insurance for type 2 diabetes to the rescue! 

We take your individual health profile into account when determining life insurance premiums, and we’re here to help you enjoy maximum wellness. It’s more than just talk. You’ll get access to a Lifestyle app to guide you as you work to manage your weight and your Diabetes. Are you ready to buck the stats? Then you’re ready for Bluezone. Simply reach out to us online today

Posted by
Dr. Karan Mehta
Co-founder & CEO
Karan is a medical doctor and an NHS Clinical Entrepreneur Fellow. He is a PhD candidate in AI in Healthcare at University College London after having achieved his Master’s in Health Data Science. Previously, he worked at Babylon Health and as an Entrepreneur in Residence at the Insurtech accelerator.
The advice we are providing is as accurate and as comprehensive as possible, but it is only general advice and should not be used as a substitute for the individual advice you might receive from consulting your qualified medical practitioner. Please ensure you consult a qualified medical professional before making any changes to your healthcare.