Diabetes is a common illness in the United States, with more than 37 million adults diagnosed with or living with undiagnosed symptoms. Currently, diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the nation. Research shows a strong connection between body weight and diabetes but losing weight (between 5 and 7% of your body weight) can reduce one type 2 diabetes risk by as much as 58%!
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic medical condition that impacts how your body breaks down the foods you eat. When you eat food, your body generally breaks down most of what you consume into glucose that is used for energy. When the amount of glucose in your bloodstream increases, it triggers insulin release. Insulin is the key your cells need to use the glucose in your blood for energy. But what happens when you have diabetes?
Diabetics either do not make enough insulin or cannot use the insulin their body makes as well as they need to control their glucose levels. Without enough insulin, too much glucose remains in the bloodstream, leading to several chronic medical problems. There are two primary diabetes diagnoses, type 1 and type 2. A third diagnosis, gestational diabetes, only affects women during their pregnancy.
Type 1 diabetes
When someone has type 1 diabetes, their body no longer makes insulin. Type 1 diabetes develops from an autoimmune reaction in the body. It is usually diagnosed at a young age and affects between 5 and 10% of people with diabetes. Type 1 diabetics must take insulin daily. Currently, there is no known way to delay or prevent type 1 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes develops over time and can be diagnosed well into adulthood. When someone has type 2 diabetes, their body does not use insulin effectively, so glucose levels in the blood cannot regulate. Type 2 diabetes is significantly more prevalent than type 1, with nearly 90-95% of people diagnosed with diabetes having type 2. Unlike type 1 diabetes, it is possible to delay the onset of or even prevent type 2 diabetes through a healthy diet, regular physical activity, and weight loss if you are overweight or obese.
Why is Weight Management Important for Diabetics?
Although the precise link between diabetes and weight is unclear, doctors understand weight plays a role in the onset of (and sometimes reversing) type 2 diabetes. As noted above, type 2 diabetes develops when the body cannot make enough or use insulin as well as it needs to for blood sugar control. Someone who is overweight needs more (sometimes up to three times as much) insulin to control glucose than someone who is at a healthy body weight.
For someone with diabetes, this is more insulin than the pancreas can produce each day. When the pancreas cannot keep up with demand, the cells that produce insulin start to die, worsening an already challenging lack of insulin. Studies also show those with high levels of abdominal fat and those who are obese release molecules that can harm the pancreas, further increasing the risk of long-term damage.
Weight loss helps to reduce the potential for many of these medical concerns. Reducing overall body weight may also reduce the need for supplementary insulin and other medications to control diabetes. Some people with diabetes may notice that weight loss and related lifestyle changes are enough to restore their blood sugar to healthy levels. It can also dramatically reduce the risk of long-term medical complications, including kidney disease, nerve damage, and heart disease.
How Many Diabetics are Overweight?
Studies show that a healthy weight reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes by as much as 90%, even for people with a family history of diabetes. Unfortunately, obesity remains a significant problem for many people with a diabetes type 2 diagnosis. Some studies suggest that up to 86% are either overweight or obese. It is also important to mention that obesity has remained a significant cause of diabetes for the last two decades, with 30% to 53% of new diabetes cases linked to obesity each year.
Although type 2 diabetes is the diagnosis most commonly connected to obesity, it should be noted that those diagnosed with type 1 diabetes may also experience weight challenges. As previously mentioned, someone with type 1 diabetes does not produce insulin at all. Therefore, their body cannot manage blood glucose without medication.
Recent studies into the connection between type 1 diabetes and obesity show that approximately 37% of people with type 1 are also obese. Also, the prevalence of kidney disease in these individuals was higher than in people with type 2 diabetes. This information suggests that weight management is crucial regardless of the type of diabetes.
What are Weight Loss Options for Diabetics?
Achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight is essential for everyone but is especially important for people with diabetes. Although getting to an ideal body weight is an integral part of diabetes management, it is vital to talk to your medical professional before beginning any weight loss program, as making sudden and dramatic changes to your diet can be more harmful than beneficial. If you have diabetes and are ready to lose weight, developing and following a plan that keeps your overall health and wellness in mind is necessary. There are several potential paths you can try to achieve your weight loss goals.
Following a healthy diet is a crucial component of any weight loss plan, especially for someone with diabetes. There are many effective and beneficial diet options, including the Mediterranean diet, paleo diet, and the DASH diet (dietary approaches to stop hypertension). Diet plans designed to help people with diabetes reduce their weight typically focus on lowering blood pressure, improving heart health by reducing sodium, and reducing the amount of processed sweets, sugars, and carbohydrates that are part of your daily intake.
In addition to a healthy diet, a regular exercise routine provides several health benefits. Regular physical activity can lower your risk for heart disease, improve your circulation, improve your blood sugar levels, and in some cases, decrease your resistance to insulin (helping insulin work better in your body) and help your body burn excess glucose. It is important to be cautious of your current blood sugar levels because sometimes exercise can elevate your blood sugar levels. Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program or intensifying your current activity level.
For some people with diabetes, exercise, diet, and lifestyle changes may not be enough to achieve significant weight loss. In these instances, medications such as Semaglutide may be beneficial. Semaglutide is a weight loss treatment that helps increase metabolism and reduce appetite, which can lead to long-term weight loss. Semaglutide accelerates your metabolism, reducing the calories your body stores as fat.
Semaglutide is an FDA-approved, clinically proven treatment that is safe for adults with a body mass index higher than 27. People with diabetes who use Semaglutide experience decreased cravings, improved glycemic control, and improved body weight. They also report reduced blood pressure, oxidative stress, and cardiovascular risk.
Our 5-Star Med Spa currently offers in person weight loss appointments to help you achieve your weight loss goals and Virtual follow up appointments after your initial visit. If you would like to learn more about Semaglutide and how our team at BB Aesthetic can help you lose weight and keep it off for good, contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our providers.