The Link 

In 2006, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) held a conference addressing the link between obesity and type 2 diabetes-due to the rising numbers of both in the United States. And as recently as the summer of 2008, Congress heard testimony from the American Diabetes Association on the same topic. Public Health officials will tell you that separately, obesity and diabetes are crises, and together, they're a recipe for a national public health disaster. 

Why are the American Diabetes Association, the CDC, and Congress so worried about obesity and diabetes? The CDC has conducted surveys that put the number of Americans between the ages of 20 to 74 who are overweight or obese at 2/3 of the population. The International Diabetes Federation predicts that one in three Americans born today will develop type 2 diabetes as a result of obesity. And a new study has shown that people with type 2 diabetes are overwhelmingly overweight or obese. So can we safely say there is a direct correlation between obesity and diabetes? Absolutely.

Let's take a look at what causes obesity: 

  • Genetics. Having obese parents or a family history of obesity gives you a roughly 35 percent greater likelihood of becoming obese yourself. Also, genetics can determine how you metabolize and store glucose and lipids-which can lead to being overweight or obese.
  • Diet. A diet high in fat and refined sugar is another potential root cause of obesity.
  • Inactivity. Physical inactivity promotes the development of obesity and modifies muscle insulin sensitivity (obesity and insulin sensitivity top the list for factors leading to type 2 diabetes). 
  • Environmental factors. Family and culture teach you much about what to eat and what activities to participate in. 
  • Medical problems. Less than 2 percent of all obesity cases can be traced to a metabolic disorder. 

The Solution

If you have type 2 diabetes and you are obese, there is a great chance you can reverse your diabetes by shedding those extra pounds that classify you as overweight or obese. The International Diabetes Federation estimates that half of all diabetes cases could be eliminated through weight gain prevention and weight loss promotion. So, how do you get started?

A study that looked at several thousand overweight diabetics, both male and female, found that weighing yourself weekly, eating daily breakfasts, and reducing food intake helped the subjects lose weight more easily than complex strategies of calorie and carb counting. The American Diabetes Association and the National Institutes of Health recommend having a dietician be part of your health care team as well.

Remember, if you have type 2 diabetes, it's important that you consult your healthcare team before engaging in physical activity that's more rigorous than walking, in order to avoid complications or injury.