For many people, weight is a sensitive issue, and achieving an ideal, healthy weight is easier said than done. However, if you have diabetes, there are numerous advantages to losing weight if you are overweight.
Obesity has become a major health concern in South Africa, with a national obesity risk factor of 8/10. In comparison to the global adult average of 13%, data shows that 26% of adults in South Africa are obese (41% of women, 11% of men), and 24% are overweight (23% of men, 27% of women), with current figures expected to double globally by 2030.
Diabetes is one of the most serious health risks associated with being overweight or obese. Research has shown that losing weight reduces the risks of serious complications such as heart disease and stroke and can also help with diabetes control.
Most people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes are overweight, especially those with type 2 diabetes. An average of around 37% of those suffering from type 1 diabetes also struggle with obesity while 30-50% of the cases of those who develop type 2 diabetes have been linked to obesity or being overweight.
When you gain weight, especially around the waist, fat accumulates around your organs, and when there is enough fat around the liver and pancreas, the result can be insulin resistance.
Working closely with your medical health professional will be beneficial as when you lose weight, your blood sugar, insulin, and medications will need special attention, especially if you have type 2, as losing as little as 5% of your body weight can show real benefits. When type 2 diabetic, losing more weight, such as 15kg or more, can result in diabetes remission, there have been many individuals who have actually come off their medications completely by losing weight and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Although weight is not the major cause of type 1 diabetes, maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce the risk of further complications and may mean injecting less insulin.
Losing weight not only helps to reduce risks and improve conditions associated with diabetes, but most people find that they have more energy, sleep better, and have less depression and anxiety.
Let’s look at the main benefits of losing weight when diabetic.
Improved Insulin Resistance
When your body does not respond to the insulin produced by the pancreas, blood glucose levels rise, which is often associated with obesity. Insulin resistance appears to improve with weight loss due to decreased inflammatory responses in the muscles, and when insulin levels decrease, diabetes management improves.
Improved A1C results
The A1C test provides a snapshot of your average blood glucose levels, and as insulin sensitivity or resistance improves with weight loss, the A1C snapshot should improve significantly.
Lower blood pressure and improved cholesterol
Diabetes is closely associated with heart problems, and developing high blood pressure and cholesterol levels is not uncommon, particularly in type 2 diabetes. High blood pressure can damage artery walls, but having too much bad cholesterol can cause build-up on the damaged artery walls, causing further complications. Losing weight can help you reduce these risks.
Decreased Risk for Vascular Damage
Vascular inflammation is linked to obesity and insulin resistance. As one gains weight, cells in the body store that fat and become enlarged or stressed, causing inflammation. Exercise and weight loss reduce insulin resistance, which can also lead to a decrease in certain blood molecules involved in inflammation.
Reduced risk of Sleep Apnea
Diabetes increases the likelihood of Sleep Apnea, which is abnormal breathing while sleeping. Sleep Apnea affects up to 71% of adults with type 2 diabetes, and research has shown that losing weight can help with this condition. This disruption to sleep can have a knock-on effect because lack of sleep can affect diabetes management by lowering motivation to exercise and increasing hunger, both of which can affect blood sugar control.
Type 2 diabetics are more likely to experience mobility issues as they are more prone to bone and joint problems, which can limit their level of activity. These can be caused by nerve damage, obesity, or even arterial disease, and losing weight can help improve daily activities and prevent mobility issues.
Increased energy and improved mood
When people lose weight, their energy levels rise, which improves their mood. Losing weight and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can improve overall mental health as people feel better about themselves.
Relay is disease progression
The number of individuals who suffer from prediabetes (most don’t even know they have this condition) losing weight can lower the risk of advancing to type 2 diabetes as it helps reduce insulin resistance. This may delay or even prevent further complication arising. And, for those who already struggle from the disease, losing weight and maintaining their weight loss goals can send the condition into remission as studies have shown. Although diabetes can not be fully reversed, it may go into remission which in summary means that the symptoms are reduced to a point where little to no medications are needed. Although, falling back into old habits and leading an unhealthy lifestyle can trigger these signs and symptoms again.
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