The link between prediabetes and obesity has been proven. Of course, every obese person is not 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 world-wide problem the link cannot be ignored.
In 2000 there were over 1.1 billion overweight individuals in the world, and 312 million were estimated to be obese. The numbers have tripled in areas where the Western diet has recently replaced traditional local foods.
Places like the Middle East, 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 shot up there, and four times faster among the aborigines as the rest of the country.
Why Is Our Western Diet So Bad?
Eating convenience foods, added sugar products and fast food leads to high triglycerides 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, are thrown out of balance by high triglycerides and inflammation. Next you see fat deposits increase, which leads to abdominal obesity and insulin resistance.
In most cases insulin resistance will become prediabetes even without adding genetic factors. The greater the obesity the faster insulin resistance will push you into type 2 diabetes.
When insulin resistant cells send out a message that they need glucose, the liver responds, making matters worse. Beta cells are already under attack from an inflammatory diet. As the sick 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 cannot waste time by doing things that won’t work.
Diets Cannot End Obesity
When you think about fighting prediabetes and obesity your first thought is probably to diet. But which one should you pick? Every man-made diet has its success stories. There are so many choices.
Maybe this will help you decide. Studies have been carried on for many years comparing popular diets. Researchers follow all of them from low-calorie to Atkins to every other modern diet. Here’s what they found.
After one year, all of the diets performed equally well. Not one of them was better than another for long-term weight loss. Every dieter succeeded or failed based on one question. Did they stay on the diet or quit?
So weight loss success came from sticking with it. Turn that statement around and you see the truth. It is not dieting that works, but making a permanent change in what you eat and how much. This is what will stop prediabetes and obesity.
Why Dieting Won’t Work
I hate the word dieting. It implies that we can “go on a diet” for a while and then return to our normal habits. That is the real reason diets don’t work. Following dieters over many years has proved it.
People who study prediabetes and obesity have published their work in medical journals meant 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 type 2 diabetic remission in some pretty famous people who were once obese. So why are they advising doctors not to set this goal for their patients?
It is because these researchers are looking at the average results for diabetics who take doctors’ advice and go on 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 loss for another six months and do not continue to lose weight at all.
Why do diabetic dieters quit trying? The problem seems to be with high expectations. Doctors urge you to get to your optimal BMI, so you try a low calorie or low carb diet, or maybe a portion controlled diet from the frozen foods section of the grocery store.
There is no limit to the things you can find to try. But every diet works best in the first few months and then levels off. You hit a plateau, or you gain weight from your diabetic medications.
In the beginning of your diabetic journey, out of control blood sugar causes weight loss no matter how much you eat. But as your blood sugar is forced to return to normal by medications, weight gain is a common side effect.
If you have to take insulin, as I do, it will make you hungrier. Another problem is that insulin tells your body to store calories as fat. That is what it was designed to do.
Losing weight becomes a real struggle. Weight loss espectations that are not realistic lead to giving up. And most people do give up. The average length of most diets is six months to a year.
What Does Work
The best way to fight obesity is to forget about dieting. Don’t fall into the trap of losing weight without changing habits. Any weight you lose will not stay off.
Even people who go through the pain of gastric surgery often gain back every pound they lose. Believe it or not, fighting obesity is not about weight loss. It is about changing the things that made us obese.
When we understand this, the weight we lose will be a great thermometer to gauge how we are changing, not a goal we try to reach so we can go back to our old ways.
The path out of prediabetes and obesity includes eating mostly fresh whole foods, not processed meals and fast food fare. Change takes time, but every permanent change in the way you eat will make you healthier.
Five Tips For Beating Diabetes and Obesity
- If you are going to beat obesity, is important to set realistic milestones for your weight loss. Losing and maintaining 10% of your starting weight will not 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 as well as help you continue to lose weight and keep it off for years. Adding exercise does end prediabetes and obesity if you don’t stop doing it.
- Don’t give up when your weight won’t budge. Plateaus are going to happen. Remember why you started and how far you’ve already come. Gratitude fuels determination. Then look forward to the next realistic goal you’ve set to keep hope alive.
- Remember that high weight loss expectations lead to giving up. A 10% weight loss maintained is better for you than losing 100 pounds and gaining it all back.
- When the weight refuses to come off, do not 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 prevent you from reaching the milestones you are aiming for. Only one thing will stop you, and that is giving up.
I’ve learned this lesson at 62 years old even though I have type 2 diabetes and take insulin every day. Go to my website’s weight loss page and you’ll see how much I’ve lost already.
Never, never, never give up. Winston Churchill