Are Diabetes And Obesity Related?


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Two of the major concerns that we face on a global level are diabetes and obesity. Diabetes currently affects more than 62 million Indians, which is more than 7.1% of the adult population. India witnesses over 10 million cases of obesity every year and nearly 1 million people die due to diabetes every year. Times of India has labeled India as the ‘Diabetes Capital of the World.’ Moving on to obesity, India ranks third among the countries with the most obesity in the world. In the past five years, childhood obesity among adolescents (13-18 years) has grown from 16% to 29%.

That being said, let's move on to the big question; Are Diabetes and Obesity related?

Scientists are certain about the fact that obesity plays a very vital part in the development of type 2 diabetes but how they are related isn’t exactly clear. However, with the increasing attempts at researching the relationship between the two, Harvard researchers have figured out a series of reactions that might unveil how obesity leads to diabetes.

Obesity stresses the cellular membranes called endoplasmic reticulum (ER) which causes the ER to suppress the signals of insulin receptors which in turn leads to insulin resistance. The endoplasmic reticulum is responsible for processing proteins and fats. Christopher Newgard, Director of the Sarah W. Stedman Nutrition and Metabolism Center at Duke University Medical Center says that, "As you enter a state of overnutrition, as we often do living in our supersized society, all of those nutrients that come in need to be processed, stored and utilized and the ER factory is overworked and starts sending out SOS signals. These SOS signals cause cells to dampen their insulin receptors leading to diabetes.”

Type 2 diabetes occurs due to the body’s inability to react to insulin. Over 90% of diabetes cases are known to be type 2 diabetes. The various risk factors for type 2 diabetes include age, pregnancy, high cholesterol, genetics, stress, high cholesterol. However, with almost 85% of diabetic patients being obese or overweight, obesity is the single best predictor of type 2 diabetes; that is because overweight people tend to have irregular blood sugar levels due to their body’s inability to use insulin which increases their chances of developing diabetes. Experts also tend to believe that obesity leads to a metabolic condition called prediabetes, which in most cases develops into type 2 diabetes.

On the optimistic side, according to National Health Services (NHS), a 5% reduction in body weight followed up by regular physical exercise and a balanced diet can reduce one's risk of developing type 2 diabetes by more than 50%.

Therefore, it is safe to conclude that obesity and diabetes are indeed related.

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