The Link Between Type 2 Diabetes and Obesity

April 02,2020 |

Diabetes is a chronic disease that plagues millions of people around the world. It’s characterized by high levels of blood sugar as a result from defects in the body’s insulin production, insulin action, or a combination of both.1 Each type of diabetes occurs due to a different insulin problem. Type 1 diabetes is when your body’s immune system starts to attack its own pancreatic beta cells—the cells that make insulin.1 Because of this, type 1 diabetes is considered an autoimmune disorder and tends to appear in children and young adults. Type 1 diabetes can occur at any age and is highly related to genetics. However, type 1 diabetes only accounts for about five to 10 percent of all cases of diabetes.1 Type 2 diabetes accounts for most of the remaining 90 to 95 percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes.1

Unlike type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes occurs because your body doesn’t metabolize sugar properly.2 This can happen in one of two ways. In some instances of type 2 diabetes, the body resists the effects of insulin altogether.2 In other instances, the body doesn’t produce enough insulin to regulate your blood sugar effectively.2 The definitive cause of type 2 diabetes isn’t clear, but there are some genetic and environmental factors that play a part. In this article, we’ll explore the link between type 2 diabetes and obesity and what you can do to prevent it.

Type 2 Diabetes Risk Factors and Causes

As we mentioned, the definitive cause of type 2 diabetes is unclear—there are a lot of factors that need to be considered. Type 2 diabetes occurs when there’s a buildup of sugar in the bloodstream due to inefficient insulin regulation which then creates a negative feedback cycle. What we do know is that there are a number of risk factors that contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes.

Obesity is the biggest risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes.2 It should also be mentioned that while obesity is a big factor, your risk changes based on how your body fat is distributed. People who store their fat in the abdomen have a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who store most of their fat in other areas.2

Some other risk factors for type 2 diabetes include:

  • Family history
  • Inactivity
  • Race
  • Age
  • Prediabetes
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome

Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes

If you start noticing any symptoms of type 2 diabetes, call your doctor immediately. You might be experiencing prediabetes, which can be slowed or halted before it reaches type 2 diabetes. Getting the proper diagnosis is the best way to form a treatment plan and reduce your likelihood of developing severe complications.

Remember that symptoms of type 2 diabetes will happen slowly, over time so it’s important to monitor your body for any changes and see your doctor regularly. Some of the symptoms of type 2 diabetes to watch for include:2

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Increased hunger
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow-healing sores
  • Frequent infections
  • Areas of darkened skin, usually in the armpits and/or neck

If you notice any of these symptoms, call your doctor to get tested for type 2 diabetes or prediabetes immediately.

Type 2 Diabetes and Obesity

Obesity is different than being overweight. Obesity is a condition where a person has dangerously high levels of body fat that could negatively impact their health.3 Being overweight means that you weigh more, but this increase in weight could stem from muscle mass, fat, or water composition.3 Obesity is gauged by comparing your current weight and your body mass index (BMI), however it’s not a definitive tool to determine if you’re obese. Talking to your doctor about your health is the best way to understand where you stand and what your subsequent risks are.

If you are obese, you have a significantly higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes at some point in your life. When you have too much fat, the tissues have to process more nutrients than they can manage.3 This puts a lot of stress on your body and in turn, triggers inflammation.3 Inflammation then goes on to increase your body’s production of the protein cytokines, which subsequently block the signals of insulin receptors.3 Overtime, this causes a resistance to insulin, which turns into type 2 diabetes. Your body needs insulin to convert sugar into energy and avoid high blood sugar levels.

The more obese that you are, the more likely your body will develop a resistance to insulin, which is why it’s so important to eat well and stay active. If you have high blood sugar levels, but haven’t developed insulin resistance, it’s possible to delay or prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. This takes work and a commitment to losing body fat, but doing so will keep you healthy and reduce your chances of developing serious complications.

Complications of Type 2 Diabetes

When left untreated, type 2 diabetes can cause serious complications. Unfortunately, since the symptoms are often gradual, many people go undiagnosed. Over time, this can lead to problems that affect major organs and cause life-threatening situations. Some of the complications of untreated, type 2 diabetes include heart and blood vessel disease, nerve damage, kidney damage, eye damage, hearing impairment, skin conditions, sleep apnea, and even Alzheimer’s disease.2 To make sure that you’re reducing your chances of developing complications of type 2 diabetes, talk to your doctor about treatment plans and preventative options.

Preventing Type 2 Diabetes

Since the biggest risk factor for type 2 diabetes is obesity, there are preventative actions you can take today. The best thing you can do for your body is to try to lose weight and adopt a healthier lifestyle. Losing weight will drastically improve insulin action, decrease fasting glucose concentrations, and even reduce the need for certain diabetes medications.1 If you have prediabetes and it has not yet advanced to type 2 diabetes, losing weight and keeping it off will help you stay healthy and revamp your body’s natural insulin effectiveness.

The best way to lose weight is through a healthy diet and an increase in regular, physical activity. If you’re struggling with weight loss, try keeping a food diary. Write down everything you eat, the portion size, and basic caloric information. This will help you increase your awareness of consumption and give you a baseline idea of how to cut down your daily calorie consumption. Most people don’t realize the high caloric content of many foods and beverages they consume throughout the day or how fast they add up. It’s recommended to adhere a diet that follows the U.S. Dietary Guidelines of 20-35% fat, 45-65% carbohydrates, and 10-35% protein.1 Always talk to your doctor before starting a new diet. Stick to whole, nutritiously dense foods and eliminate overly processed foods from your diet for the best, long-lasting results.

In conjunction with a healthier diet you need to incorporate regular physical activity. You can start small, but still aim for about 30-45 minutes of moderate exercise at least five times per week.1 If you don’t want to join a gym, there are plenty of great exercises available online. Even going on a daily walk can help you jumpstart your physical exercise. Take small steps and slowly work toward your goal so that you don’t get overwhelmed and give up before you see results.  


Diabetes, whether it’s type 1, type 2, or gestational diabetes means that you’ll need to consistently monitor your blood glucose levels to stay healthy. Living an active lifestyle and eating nutritionally dense foods will make things easier, but diabetes requires continued management. If you have any questions or plan to make major changes to your current habits, always talk to your doctor before doing so. If you need any blood glucose meters or continuous glucose monitoring devices, Byram Healthcare has you covered. We’re proud to provide you with the latest technology in diabetes management, including continuous glucose monitoring. We’ll work with your insurance provider and doctor to ensure you’re supported from start to finish, maximizing your coverage while minimizing out-of-pocket expenses. For more information and added support on diabetes management, take advantage of Byram Healthcare’s Caring Touch At Home Program. We focus on providing exceptional customer service and top-of-the-line brand name products while lowering your overhead costs. The Caring Touch At Home Program combines convenience, affordability, and choice to deliver extensive service and support to everyone living with diabetes.

For added support, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Byram’s Diabetes Center of Excellence—a one source, total solution for diabetes care. Our Center of Excellence combines high quality products with clinical and educational research to help you better manage your condition, support all of your needs, and live a long, healthy life.