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The Link Between Obesity and Diabetes



We all know that diabetes is a severe disease, and you may even know that diabetes is considered one of three main killers in the United States alongside cancer and heart disease. Still, you may not know, however, how and why diabetes is linked to obesity.  In this article, I am going to be covering some reasons why America is getting fatter and why this is leading to more diabetics.

According to the Center For Disease Control (, over 1/3 of all American adults are considered obese, and over 17% of all American children are considered obese as well.  As obesity continues to be a growing trend in our society, there is also a rise in type 2 diabetes.  Is there a link between obesity and type 2 diabetes?  Is so, why?

The answer is a resounding “yes.”  There is a causal link between obesity and type 2 diabetes.  Before I explain why there is that link, we need to understand what differentiates type 1 diabetes from type 2 diabetes.  Type 1 diabetes refers to a form of diabetes where the person’s body does not produce any insulin.  If you remember, insulin is what the body’s pancreas produces to take sugar (glucose) from the bloodstream to take into the cells to be used as energy.

When the body does not have insulin, this process cannot be done, and a person’s blood sugar levels become dangerously high.  In type 2 diabetes, the body does produce insulin; still, it is resisted by the body, known as “insulin resistance,” and the challenge of getting the glucose from the bloodstream into the cells remains.

Link Between Type 2 Diabetes and Obesity

Now, the interesting thing is that diabetes is usually something that someone is born with irrespective of body weight.  So, where is the link between obesity and diabetes?  According to the International Diabetes Foundation and The Obesity Society, among the people who are diagnosed as type 2 diabetic, 80-90% of them are also diagnosed as being obese.

On July 8th of 2009, a team of researchers published research in the journal “Cell Metabolism.”  Their study concluded that the fat tissue in the body releases a protein called PEDF (pigment epithelium-derived factor).  This protein, according to their research, causes the muscle and liver to be desensitized to insulin, and this leads to insulin resistance, as I talked about earlier.

Insulin resistance is a characteristic of type 2 diabetes.  So, the more fat tissue someone has, the more their body is going to be resistant to the insulin that the body produces.  What also happens is that the pancreas is forced to produce more insulin, and it may eventually slow down or stop producing insulin altogether.  The good news, however, is that if weight is lost, then the body can once again return to being sensitive to insulin, and this disease can be reversed.

Why is America Getting Fatter and Fatter?

The answer is simple: we overeat junk, and we don’t exercise.  However, to be specific, let’s highlight a few truths.

Sugary Sodas

Hey, I like to have one coke per day.  One!  Maybe you don’t drink soda at all, and that’s great, but did you know that, according to Choice Magazine ) sugary sodas have become the single most crucial calorie source for Americans.  That is scary.

Types of Work

While having a job has now become a luxury, physically demanding careers are fading into obscurity, according to  Americans just don’t “work” like they used to.  Reaching across your desk for your mocha-latte just isn’t going to burn that many calories.

Lack of Movement

Hey, forget exercise, we don’t “move” as Americans.  According to, we spend almost twice as much time in our cars compared to the 1970s; the average American spends 26 hrs. Per week watching TV, and 80& of Americans don’t exercise at all.  Hmm…are you seeing some reasons for obesity?

In conclusion, it is straightforward to be fat and lazy in America, but it boils down to a matter of personal choice.  You can blame it on your genetics, your parents, your spouse, your job, or anything else, but at the end of the day, it is a choice that we all make to either be healthy or sedentary.