It’s been in the news for years, so you’ve probably heard that weight gain can lead to diabetes. However, some clarification is in order. There are two types of diabetes – Type 1 and Type 2 – and weight gain is only linked to one of them.
In Type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks and destroys the pancreatic cells that produce insulin. It’s an auto-immune disorder affecting about 5 to 10 percent of people who have diabetes, and is often recognized in children and young people.
Type 2 diabetes is the one associated with weight gain. It’s more often diagnosed in middle-aged and older adults, but it can strike overweight children as well. When you hear news stories and medical advice about weight gain leading to diabetes, this is the type to which they are referring.
There’s bad news and good news about diabetes: Type 1, being an auto-immune disorder, is not preventable. You either have it, or you don’t. The good news is that Type 2, the most common form of diabetes, can often be prevented by managing your weight. And if you do get Type 2 diabetes, weight loss can often help you get your symptoms under control.
The Diabetes Prevention Program (a clinical research study of over 3,200 participants nation-wide), has demonstrated that even a relatively small loss of weight helped to delay or prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes. How small? According to the study, losing 5 to 7 percent of total body weight was effective. To put that in perspective, that means a 200-pound person could prevent Type 2 diabetes by losing 10 to 14 pounds. That’s not an unrealistic goal by any means, and certainly worth the trouble to ward off a dangerous and costly disease!
Research also shows us the best ways to lose that weight:
- Drink more water – at least eight, eight-ounce glasses of water per day
- Exercise more – every little bit counts
- Choose heart-healthy (unsaturated) fats over saturated fats
- Eat more whole grains, and less refined carbs (white flour)
- Eat adequate protein – it’s digested more slowly and keeps your blood sugar levels more even
- Reduce sugars in your diet – specifically, added sugars (naturally occurring sugars such as those in fruit are less of a concern)
Those are just basic guidelines, and you might need additional nutritional advice. Before beginning any weight loss program, come see us for an appointment. We can screen you for metabolic problems, help you decide on an eating plan, and check for conditions that could make exercise dangerous. We can help you put together a weight loss plan that really works for you, so you can prevent weight-related diseases and enjoy improved health.