Diabetes Type 2 And Weight

What is diabetes type 2?

Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes affecting society. It happens when blood sugar (glucose) is high and uncontrolled due to an impairment in the way body regulates glucose levels.1,2

This is a chronic disease, which means lifelong, and sometimes can be very silent, but its effect can lead to problems in the vessels of the body, nerves and even affects the immune system.1

In this type of diabetes, the cells of the body do not respond well to insulin (insulin resistance), a hormone responsible for facilitating the entrance of glucose into the body's cells. In addition, the pancreas also produces lower levels of this hormone; therefore, there is a lack of glucose inside the cell and higher levels of sugar in the bloodstream.1,2

Type 2 diabetes is more common in older adults. However, the number of children with this disease has been increasing due to the high rate of obesity among the younger generations.1

Being overweight increases risk of developing diabetes type 2

The association between type 2 diabetes and being overweight and obese is proven, however, the exact mechanisms behind this are still not clear. New research suggests that people with obesity have an 80 times higher chance of developing type 2 diabetes than people with BMI (body mass index) lower than 22.3

This happens because being overweight and obese are linked to insulin resistance, especially if you have an excess of fat around your abdomen. It is suggested that the fat around the abdomen can release proinflammatory substances, along with non-esterified fatty acids, glycerol and hormones. These chemicals combined will trigger a process that will develop insulin resistance in the organism.4

Insulin resistance

Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas, an organ that is part of the digestive system. After eating, our body breaks the food, and in this case, carbohydrates into glucose. Glucose is a type of sugar responsible for providing energy to our cells and therefore, our body.

It acts to facilitate the entrance of glucose into the cells. It is a very important hormone, without which we cannot survive. In severe cases of type 2 diabetes, insulin needs to be replaced to help the body function properly.5,6

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, but the main mechanism of this disease is insulin resistance. In this case, the pancreas is producing insulin, however, the cells do not respond well to it and therefore the glucose remains in the bloodstream, causing high sugar levels. The pancreas tries to compensate for it, producing more insulin, but when the limit is achieved, symptoms and complications start to appear.1

The initial symptoms might include:

  • Fatigue (feeling tired)
  • Hunger
  • Areas of dark skin, mostly on the armpit, groins or neck, known as acanthosis nigricans
  • Lack in concentration7

Losing excess weight can help get diabetes type 2 under control

As we see above, excess weight and fat can lead to biochemical processes in our bodies that will culminate in insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Therefore, losing weight and reducing the fat in your body can reduce the inflammation caused by the chemicals released and prevent and control our bodies’ sensitivity to insulin.

In order to do that, people should try to eat healthily, reducing the amount of fat, carbohydrates and sugar they are consuming. Keeping in mind to reduce the calories taken. No single diet was proven to be the most effective and it is important to not engage in crazy and very restrictive diets that will fail and that can be dangerous.8

Physical activity is also a lifestyle improvement that must be put in place when trying to lose weight. Moving for 30 minutes for at least 5 days a week has proven to be effective when trying to control weight.9 Exercise makes your body more sensitive to insulin, improving insulin resistance.10

Unmanaged type 2 diabetes can cause rapid weight changes

The first stages of insulin resistance can bring weight gain, since insulin resistance will make the sugar levels go high, the pancreas will respond by producing more insulin that will store the excess sugar as fat.10 

Initially, people who have type 2 diabetes and are not aware yet, or even people who did not engage in any treatments might present some weight loss. This happens because when the pancreas fails in producing enough insulin to compensate for the insulin resistance the body starts to show symptoms.

Since sugar is failing in entering the cell to provide energy to it, the body starts to break down fat in order to produce energy to the body and this will lead to weight loss. However, this is not a healthy process and treatment must be commenced.

When treatment is started and the balance is restored, the patient needs to be aware of trying to control weight gain and maintain a healthy diet, otherwise, the high levels of sugar in the blood will end up being stored as fat.


Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes that exists. It is characterised by high levels of sugar in the bloodstream. Symptoms include fatigue, weight loss, feeling thirsty or hungry, peeing a lot, loss of sensation, blurred vision, etc.

Overweight and obesity are closely linked to type 2 diabetes because they lead the body to insulin resistance, the main cause of this type of diabetes. Insulin is the hormone responsible to facilitate the entrance of sugar into the cells, and the loss of sensitivity to this hormone will increase sugar levels in the bloodstream.

Controlling weight will help control insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes and healthy diets and exercise are indicated in order to achieve this.

Renata Barbosa Rebuitti

Bachelor's Degree in Medicine,Federal University of Minas Gerais

Renata is a medical doctor passionate about her work and science. Currently exploring medical writing and medical communications. She loves to share information and scientific knowledge.

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