Nearly 10% of Americans have diabetes, according to the CDC. Almost another 30% have pre-diabetes, which if left untreated can lead to type 2 diabetes (T2) within 5 years. More than 30% of adults in the United States are obese and more than 65% of adults with T2 are obese. So, does obesity cause diabetes, or the other way around?
At First Med Marin in Greenbrae, California, Dr. Barry Landfield helps patients untangle their obesity and diabetic statuses, and find ways to mitigate both conditions for better health.
What causes obesity?
While many people oversimplify obesity to mean simply overeating, obesity has multiple causes, which can often overlap and make it almost impossible to avoid obesity risk:
- Genetics plays a large part. Children of obese parents are far more likely to struggle with obesity.
- Poverty is also a factor. Lack of access to foods except for highly processed, carb heavy options can contribute to obesity.
- Metabolic syndrome. Both of the above factors can lead to high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and poor blood lipid profiles.
While you can’t control everything about your genetics or how your body handles food, you can control your lifestyle and make positive changes.
What causes T2 diabetes?
Just as with obesity, many people make the mistake of defining diabetes as something “people who like to eat sugar” get. If you have T2 diabetes, you may also have family members who have it. For T2 diabetics:
- Your pancreas probably still produces normal amounts of insulin, (unlike T1 diabetics) although it may eventually fail if your diabetes remains uncontrolled.
- Your blood cells are resistant, and don’t allow the insulin to enter the cell and deal with sugars properly.
- Your blood sugar stays high after you eat instead of returning to normal within two hours after a meal.
Being obese and/or having metabolic syndrome can lead to insulin resistance. Having diabetes that is uncontrolled can also lead to obesity. For some people, it can be impossible to tell which came first.
How can obesity and diabetes be treated?
Lifestyle changes are the first line of treatment for both T2 diabetes and obesity. Losing weight can help lower blood sugar levels and blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke, and reduce fatigue and other symptoms of both conditions.
Dr. Landfield will determine your level of obesity and type of diabetes if you are affected by either or both. He will then work with you to create a treatment plan which may include oral medication or injected insulin, a sensible diet and nutrition plan, an exercise plan, and changes such as stopping smoking, if indicated.
If you have a family history of either diabetes or obesity and worry that you might be at risk, know that early action can help reverse the ill effects that obesity and diabetes can have on your body and reduce your risk of serious health events. Contact our offices or book a consultation with Dr. Landfield using our online booking system.