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Fighting Diabesity with Lifestyle Changes

Written by Mita Majumdar, M.Sc. | Medically Reviewed by Dr. Sunil Shroff, MBBS, MS, FRCS (UK), D. Urol (Lond) on Jun 27, 2018
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With more than one billion people affected, diabesity is the largest epidemic in the world today. Fortunately it can be reversed, this combination of obesity and diabetes can be reversed with lifestyle changes.

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Diabestity is a term coined to indicate instances where diabetes is caused by obesity. The word very aptly illustrates the intimate relationship of diabetes with obesity. It is known that excess weight in majority of patients is responsible for type 2 diabetes. This leads to insulin resistance and results in group of symptoms of a metabolic disorder known as Metabolic Syndrome X or insulin resistance syndrome. In type -2 diabetes in adults the obesity typically is due to excess fat around the abdomen whereas in type 2 diabetes in children the obesity is more generalized.

Pre-diabetes, Syndrome X, Metabolic Syndrome or Insulin Resistance Syndrome – all these conditions are the same, in the sense, all of them have the same fundamental underlying cause and that is, the elevated blood sugar due to insulin resistance of the cells. Insulin normally pushes the sugar inside the cell but in insulin resistance this is impaired and the severity of this defect varies. The term diabesity covers all the above diagnoses and is a health problem involving metabolic imbalance which may range from mild blood sugar imbalance to full blown type-2 diabetes and which is essentially connected to obesity, especially abdominal obesity.

Fighting Diabesity with Lifestyle Changes

Diabesity is the leading cause of the most chronic disease of the modern world. If you have diabesity, you are at an increased risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, dementia, and even cancer and kidney failure. Severe diabetes causes nervous system damage leading to loss of sensation in hands and feet, and carpal tunnel syndrome among host of other dysfunctions.

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Diabesity is a serious global health problem. Type-2 diabetes, which makes up 90 percent of all diabetes cases, affects about 6 percent of the total adult population in the world. More worrying is the fact that cases of obesity related type-2 diabetes amongst children and teenagers have begun to emerge. In a national survey in 2005 in USA it was calculated that the obesity rate for children was 17.1 percent. So much so, the United Nations General Assembly passed a Resolution in 2006 recognizing diabetes as a ‘chronic, debilitating and costly disease associated with major complications that pose severe risks for families, countries and the entire world’.

In her book ‘Diabesity’ Dr. Kaufman explains the reason for diabesity quite simply: "Our ancient genes and our modern environment have collided." Our forefathers hunted for food and calories were hard to come by so it was stored as fat. But in the world today food is everywhere and easily accessible as fast food and junk food and added to this has been our increasingly inactive lifestyle – resulting in obesity.

Diabesity can be treated and even reversed if we modify our lifestyle, but we have to delve into the root cause of this disorder to correct it.

  1. Diabesity: an overview of a rising epidemic - (http://ndt.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2010/11/02/ndt.gfq576.abstract)
  2. Searching QTL by gene expression: analysis of diabesity - (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC555939/)
  3. Horton ES. Effects of lifestyle changes to reduce risks of diabetes and associated cardiovascular risks: results from large scale efficacy trials. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2009 Dec;17 Suppl 3:S43-8.
  4. Salmeron J, Manson JE, Stampfer MJ, Colditz GA, Wing AL, Willett WC. Dietary fiber, glycemic load, and risk of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus in women. JAMA. 1997;277(6):472-477.
  5. Dietary curcumin significantly improves obesity-associated inflammation and diabetes in mouse models of diabesity. - (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18403477)

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