Diabetes is common in the United States, with experts estimating that more than 29 million people have it. As many as 8 million may not know they have the disease, because it often doesn’t have noticeable symptoms.
The healthcare providers at Apex Medical Center are familiar with diagnosing and treating type 2 diabetes and know that there’s a clear link between obesity and diabetes. In some ways, that link is good news, because it gives you some control over your health. Keep reading for some of the facts regarding the link between obesity and diabetes.
Not all fat is created equally
There are two kinds of fat: visceral fat and subcutaneous fat. Subcutaneous fat is the fat that is between your skin and your muscle. Visceral fat is belly fat, and rather than just existing between your abdominal muscles and your skin, it goes deeper, wrapping around your organs.
Your waist measurement matters
Visceral fat is the reason your waist circumference matters. It’s not only that obesity is linked to diabetes; researchers have identified a more specific link, and that’s the circumference of your waist.
The bigger your waist measurement, the greater your risk of developing diabetes. In men, a waist measurement of 37 inches or less means a low risk of developing diabetes, while a measurement of more than 40 indicates a very high risk. In women, less than 31.5 is a low-risk measurement, and greater than 35 is very high.
For many years, researchers thought that visceral fat was simply fat, that it just sat there, taking up space and adding weight. However, in recent years, studies have found that visceral fat sends messages to the body, and they believe those messages may play a role in the development of diabetes.
Your pancreas produces insulin, and insulin helps your cells convert the sugars in the food you eat into energy that your body burns. As diabetes develops, your cells become less responsive to insulin. Researchers think that the visceral fat may have some role in your cells becoming more resistant to insulin.
Although it’s far easier to say than to do, the solution is to maintain a healthy body weight, or if you’re overweight, to lose weight. “Eat less and move more” isn’t exactly helpful advice, but it is the bottom line when it comes to losing weight.
Making small, incremental changes can lead to success. For example, you might begin by eliminating one item from your diet. If you drink soda, that might be a good place to start. If you eat dessert every day, maybe consider cutting it back to two or three times per week.
Adding even a small amount of exercise, such as a 20-30 minute walk each day, can have an enormous impact on your physical and mental health. You don’t have to sign up for a marathon in order to improve your health.
If you’d like to learn more about your risk of developing diabetes, or you’d like to discuss how to go about losing weight, book an appointment with one of the healthcare providers at Apex Medical Center today. We have three convenient locations, you can schedule online or by phone, and we’ll be happy to talk to you about your specific situation.