Why does obesity produce type 2 diabetes?

Obesity and overweight are main risk factors for type 2 diabetes. The relationship between these pathologies is so close that we start talking of diabesity. How does obesity lead to type 2 diabetes? And more important, how can we prevent it?

Prevalence of obesity and type 2 diabetes increases so much that WHO already call them pandemics of 21st century More than half of the world population is obese or overweight (more than 400 million adults and by 2025 will be more than 700 million).

Some facts about diabetes (according to WHO):

  • By 2014, 39% of adults aged 18 and over were overweight, and 13% were obese.
  • The global prevalence of diabetes in the adult population has also increased, from 4.7% in 1980 to almost double, 8.5% in 2014.
obesidad diabetes tipo 2 prevenir

Fat tissue detail

Obesity and overweight become severe health risks since it has associated comorbidities such as type 2 diabetes (in addition to cardiovascular diseases, hypertension or dyslipidemia). The relationship between both pathologies has given rise to the term “diabesity”.

Why does obesity evolve to type 2 diabetes?

Obesity is one of the most important risk factors for type 2 diabetes – along with age, genetic predisposition and sedentary lifestyle. The evolution from obesity to type 2 diabetes is due to a progressive failure of insulin production that matches with a progressive increase in insulin resistance:

obesity type 2 diabetes

Insulin production failure:
When a person is overweight or obese, their body needs to produce more insulin to bring glucose into the cells that make up their adipose tissue, which can lead to a failure in insulin production. This is how the amount of glucose in the blood increases and the pancreas must work hard to produce more insulin to try to keep blood glucose levels within normal levels. This overexertion causes e pancreas fatigue and consequent reduction of insulin production capacity.

Insulin resistance:
Excess weight can produce insulin resistance, cells reduce sensitivity, do not respond, to insulin and glucose cannot enter them. A general fat gain, and more specifically of deposits of visceral and ectopic fat (abdominal fat) is specifically associated with this insulin resistance.

How can we prevent obesity and type 2 diabetes?

relación obesidad diabetes prevenir

“Modest lifestyle changes contribute to reduce glucose levels, reduce weight and insulin resistance and decreases development of type 2 diabetes”.

Dr. David Nathan

Founder del Diabetes Prevention Program del NIH
Director of Diabetes Center Massachusetts General Hospital
Prof. Harvard Medical School