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The Link Between Diabetes and Obesity

Obesity and diabetes have reached epidemic levels with over 70% of American adults classified as overweight or obese and more than 100 million adults in the United States living with diabetes. There’s a strong connection between obesity and diabetes. 

Carrying excess weight is a major risk factor for developing Type 2 diabetes. Most people who have Type 2 diabetes — more than 90% — are overweight. These twin epidemics have been the target of numerous studies in an effort to learn more about the link between obesity and diabetes. Here’s what we at WestMed Family Healthcare would like you to know.

Health care providers are here to help

At Westmed Family Healthcare, our highly skilled physicians provide top-quality medical care for every phase of life. Increasing awareness about chronic diseases like obesity and diabetes is part of helping you stay as healthy as possible. Diabetes and obesity are modifiable conditions. 

This means that you can take action to lower your risk of developing these diseases or better manage them if you’re living with diabetes or obesity. A better understanding of the connection between diabetes and obesity can empower patients to make the changes necessary to promote health and reduce disease risk.

Being overweight raises your risk for Type 2 diabetes

Carrying excess weight is more than just a cosmetic concern. Your body needs some body fat to function properly, but too much of it is detrimental to your health. We used to think of body fat as an inactive substance with no other function than to store extra calories. Now we know that body fat has a secret life of its own. 

Fat tissue is active and functions like an organ. It secretes hormones and enzymes, communicates with other organs, and produces small pieces of genetic material called microRNAs.

High levels of microRNAs are linked to an increased risk for chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Having too much fat tissue increases inflammatory chemicals that, when chronically elevated, raise the risk for diabetes and other chronic diseases. 

Obesity has a negative impact on just about every system in your body, including your pancreas, the organ responsible for helping to regulate blood sugar.

Weight loss reduces diabetes risk

As health professionals, we’re working to understand the precise mechanisms responsible for the link between obesity and diabetes. What we do know for sure is that you have a much greater chance of developing diabetes when you’re overweight and that bringing your weight within a healthy range significantly lowers your diabetes risk and makes it easier to control. 

Discuss your health concerns with our team if you’re currently overweight or at risk of being overweight.

Prevent diabetes and manage it more effectively

It’s no surprise that the lifestyle changes known to cut your risk of diabetes also promote healthy weight management. Here are some ways you can drop your diabetes risk.


Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that physical activity is good for your overall health. Getting your body moving and engaging in regular physical activity lowers your risk for chronic diseases, including diabetes, and makes blood sugar easier to control.

Exercise helps your body use energy more efficiently and makes your cells more sensitive to the blood sugar-regulating hormone insulin. Getting moderate-intensity exercise for just 30 minutes most days of the week lowers blood sugar.

Adopt a more nutritious diet

A nutrient-dense diet can help keep both your weight and your blood sugar in check. High fat, salty, and sugar-laden foods may be more convenient and taste good, but they’re bad news for your health. There’s no need to give up flavor when aiming to improve your nutritional intake. Small changes can have big results. 

Changes like swapping out soda and sugary drinks with fruit-infused water and herbal teas, and cutting back on junk food and fast food can have big results when it comes to slashing your diabetes risk. Your health care provider can help you adopt healthier eating habits and choose nutritious foods that taste great.

We’ve discussed some actions you can take now to gain control over your weight and diabetes risk. If you’re unsure about where to start, call us at Westmed Family Healthcare in Westminster, Colorado, to schedule a well visit, or for added convenience, use our online scheduling tool to book your appointment. Checkups are a vital way to evaluate and monitor your overall health.

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