The Alarming Relationship between Obesity and Diabetes

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There appears to be a relationship between the rising rate of obesity and diabetes in America. In fact, approximately 80 to 90 percent of people living with Type 2 diabetes are also considered obese or overweight.

Separately, diabetes and obesity pose a wide variety of immediate and long-term threats to a person’s health and well-being, but together, they form the biggest health crisis of the 21st century, according to the International Diabetes Foundation.

Obesity and Diabetes: The Basics

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has labeled the rising rates of obesity and diabetes as a national epidemic, backing up the claim with a number of alarming statistics:

  • One-third of American adults are classified as obese
  • Childhood obesity has more than doubled in the last three decades
  • Diabetes affects over 25 million people in the United States
  • Type 2 diabetes accounts for more than 90 percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes
  • Nearly 7 million cases of diabetes are currently undiagnosed

The Link between Obesity and Diabetes

Being overweight is a primary risk factor for Type 2 diabetes. Carrying extra weight places additional stress on a body in a number of ways, including its ability to maintain proper blood glucose levels – the body’s main source of energy. Over time, obesity can cause a person to become insulin resistant, meaning glucose can’t enter body cells as it should.  

When this happens, blood sugars rise, forcing the pancreas to produce even more insulin to compensate. Eventually, the pancreas can wear out and quit producing enough insulin to keep blood sugar levels normal, leading to Type 2 diabetes.

Additional Health Risks of Obesity and Diabetes

In addition to increasing a person’s risk for diabetes, obesity is a catalyst to other serious health risks. Individuals who are obese and diabetic make up one of the largest high-risk groups for developing the following health conditions:

  • Heart disease and cardiovascular problems, such as heart attack, high blood pressure and stroke
  • Osteoarthritis because of added pressure on joints and cartilage, causing them to wear away
  • Breathing problems, especially sleep apnea and asthma
  • Certain types of  cancer, including esophagus, breast, endometrium, colon and rectum, kidney, pancreas, thyroid, gallbladder and possibly others 
  • Digestive problems such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), gallstones and liver disease
  • Reproductive health problems including greater risk for infertility
  • Kidney disease through the risk of diabetes and high blood pressure
  • Gestational diabetes during pregnancy that can lead to complications for the baby

Take Charge of Your Health with UnityPoint Clinic!

Fortunately, obesity and Type 2 diabetes are largely preventable and manageable when you make a commitment to living out the healthy life you strive to live.

However, we understand that making new lifestyle changes can be difficult to do on your own. That’s why UnityPoint Clinic offers comprehensive services in family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics and over ten specialties to help you meet your goals.

As your committed partner in health and wellness, we surround you with coordinated care throughout each stage in life – no matter where you are on your journey to becoming the healthiest version of yourself. Contact us today to learn how, together, we can take proactive steps toward a healthy future.