The link between prediabetes and obesity has been shown. Of course, not everyone who is obese is a type 2 diabetic, and it is possible to be diabetic without being overweight.
But obesity increases the risk of developing prediabetes. As obesity becomes a global problem, the link cannot be ignored.
In 2000 there were more than 1.1 billion overweight people in the world, and an estimated 312 million were obese. Numbers have tripled in areas where the Western diet has recently replaced traditional local foods.
Places like the Middle East, the Pacific Islands, India, Southeast Asia, and China are seeing this happen. Diabetics are expected to increase from 84 million in 2000 to 228 million in 2030.
The connection between obesity and our Western diet seems clear. When fast food chains flooded Australia, type 2 diabetes cases skyrocketed there, four times faster among Aboriginal people than in the rest of the country.
Why is our western diet so bad?
Consumption of convenience foods, products with added sugar, and fast foods lead to high triglyceride levels even in people who are not overweight. Heart and blood vessel problems, as well as inflammatory syndromes, have been linked to high triglycerides.
Your pancreas, especially the beta cells that control how your body handles food, goes out of balance due to high triglyceride levels and inflammation. You will then see increased fat deposits, which leads to abdominal obesity and insulin resistance.
In most cases, insulin resistance will develop into prediabetes even without adding genetic factors. The higher the obesity, the faster the insulin resistance will lead to type 2 diabetes.
When insulin-resistant cells send a message that they need glucose, the liver responds and makes matters worse. The beta cells are already being attacked by an inflammatory diet. As diseased beta cells try to restore order by making more insulin, they become weaker and weaker.
The progression from prediabetes and obesity to full-blown type 2 diabetes is slow, so there is time to do something about it. But you can’t waste time doing things that won’t work.
Diets cannot end obesity
When you think of fighting prediabetes and obesity, the first thing you think of is probably dieting. But which one should you choose? Every man-made diet has its success stories. There are so many options.
Maybe this will help you decide. For many years studies have been conducted comparing popular diets. Researchers follow them all, from low-calorie to Atkins to every other modern diet. This is what they found.
After a year, all the diets worked equally well. None of them were better than another for long-term weight loss. Each dieter succeeded or failed based on one question. Did they stay on the diet or did they leave it?
So weight loss success came from keeping it off. Turn that statement around and you will see the truth. What works is not dieting, but making a permanent change in what you eat and how much. This is what will stop prediabetes and obesity.
Why the diet will not work
I hate the word diet. It implies that we can “go on a diet” for a while and then return to our normal habits. That’s the real reason why diets don’t work. Following dieters for many years has proven this.
People who study prediabetes and obesity have published their work in medical journals intended for the eyes of doctors. The articles urge doctors to stop asking their obese diabetic patients to expect a normal BMI (fat to muscle ratio).
Everyone knows that a normal BMI has led to remission of type 2 diabetes in some pretty famous once-obese people. So why advise doctors not to set this goal for their patients?
This is because these researchers are looking at the average results of diabetics who follow their doctors’ advice and follow a diet. They find that most dieters lose 5-10% of their starting weight in the first six months and then level off. On average, they keep about half of the weight lost for another six months and do not continue to lose weight at all.
Why do diabetic dieters stop trying? The problem seems to be in the high expectations. Doctors recommend that you reach your optimal BMI, so you should try a low-calorie or low-carb diet, or perhaps a portion-controlled diet from the frozen food section of the grocery store.
There is no limit to the things you can find to try. But all diets work best in the first few months and then level off. You plateau or gain weight on your diabetes medications.
At the beginning of your diabetic journey, out-of-control blood sugar triggers weight loss no matter how much you eat. But because the drugs force blood sugar back to normal, weight gain is a common side effect.
If you have to take insulin, like I do, you’ll get hungry. Another problem is that insulin tells your body to store calories as fat. That’s what it was designed for.
Losing weight becomes a real struggle. Unrealistic weight loss expectations lead to giving up. And most people give up. The average duration of most diets is six months to a year.
The best way to combat obesity is to forget about diets. Don’t fall into the trap of losing weight without changing your clothes. Any weight you lose will not stick.
Even people who go through the pain of gastric surgery often gain every pound they lose. Believe it or not, fighting obesity is not about losing weight. It’s about changing the things that made us obese.
When we understand this, the weight we lose will be a great thermometer to measure how we are changing, not a goal we try to reach to return to our old ways.
The path out of prediabetes and obesity includes eating mostly fresh whole foods, not processed foods or fast foods. Change takes time, but every permanent change in the way you eat will make you healthier.
Five tips to beat diabetes and obesity
- If you’re going to beat obesity, it’s important to set realistic milestones for your weight loss. Losing and maintaining 10% of your starting weight won’t give you the diabetic cure of a perfect BMI, but it will add years to your life.
- Increase your physical activity. Exercise will increase your quality of life and help you keep losing weight and keeping it off for years. Adding exercise ends prediabetes and obesity if you don’t stop doing it.
- Don’t give up when your weight falls short of the budget. The trays will pass. Remember why you started and how far you’ve come. Gratitude fuels determination. Then look forward to the next realistic goal you’ve set for yourself to keep hope alive.
- Remember that high expectations of weight loss lead to giving up. A sustained 10% weight loss is better for you than losing 100 pounds and gaining it all back.
- When the weight refuses to come off, don’t eat less. That is a common weight loss mistake. Instead of eating less, exercise more.
Are you already a type 2 diabetic? It doesn’t matter. These tips will work for you too. Insulin and medications won’t stop you from reaching the milestones you want. Only one thing will stop you, and that is giving up.
I have learned this lesson at 62 even though I have type 2 diabetes and take insulin every day. Go to the weight loss page of my website and you will see how much I have already lost.
Never, never, never give up. Winston Churchill