It's hard to flip through a magazine or surf a health website without getting the lowdown on weight. The general idea: Being active and eating healthy are the best ways to manage weight.
This advice works for everybody, but it can be particularly helpful for people with diabetes. That's because weight can influence diabetes, and diabetes can influence weight. This relationship may be different for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, but the end advice is the same: Managing weight can really make a difference in a person's diabetes management plan.
If a person has type 1 diabetes but hasn't been treated yet, he or she often loses weight. In type 1 diabetes, the body can't use glucose (pronounced: GLOO-kose) properly because the pancreas no longer produces insulin that's needed to get glucose into the cells.
Then the body flushes the unusable glucose (and the calories) out of the body in urine, or pee. As a result, the person can lose weight. After treatment for type 1 diabetes, though, a person usually returns to a healthy weight.
Sometimes, though, people with type 1 diabetes can be overweight, too. They may be overweight when they find out they have diabetes or they may become overweight after they start treatment. Being overweight can make it harder for people with type 1 diabetes to keep their blood sugar levels under control.
Most people are overweight when they're diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Being overweight or obese increases a person's risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
People with type 2 diabetes have a condition called insulin resistance in which their bodies are able to make insulin, but can't use it properly to move glucose into the cells. As a result, the amount of glucose in the blood rises. The pancreas then makes more insulin to try to overcome the problem.
Eventually, the pancreas can wear out from working overtime and may no longer be able to produce enough insulin to keep blood glucose levels within a normal range. At this point, a person has type 2 diabetes.
People who don't have diabetes also can have insulin resistance. People with insulin resistance are at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes if they don't already have it.
People with insulin resistance are often overweight and don't exercise very much. But weight loss, eating healthier foods and portion sizes, and getting exercise can actually reverse insulin resistance.
For people with type 2 diabetes, reversing insulin resistance makes it easier to get blood sugar levels into a healthier range. For those who have insulin resistance but not diabetes, reversing insulin resistance can reduce the risk that they'll develop diabetes.
Getting to and staying at a healthy weight helps you feel better and have more energy, and being at a healthy weight also reduces the risk of heart disease and other health problems. Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight may also help you reduce diabetes symptoms and control your blood sugar levels.
Your doctor will let you know if you should lose weight to control your diabetes. Doctors usually use your weight and height to calculate your body mass index (BMI), which helps them judge whether your weight is healthy.
Your doctor can talk to you about the weight range that is right for you and help you create a meal and exercise plan to stay within that range. Even if your weight is healthy, eating right and exercising regularly can make your diabetes easier to control and prevent problems down the road.
If you're overweight, don't feel bad about it or guilty about your diabetes (lots of people who don't have diabetes need to lose weight, too!). Instead, take action. Use your meal plan, exercise, and medications to reach and maintain a healthier weight. It won't happen overnight.
Learning how to eat right and exercise to get to a healthy weight can be challenging for most people — those who don't have diabetes, too — because it takes time.
Weight management offers special challenges for people with diabetes. Here are some tips:
If you need more info about diabetes and how it affects your weight, or if you're worried about it, talk to a member of your diabetes health care team. Your team can help you learn healthy ways to make it easier to manage your weight, so don't hesitate to take advantage of their knowledge and expertise.
When your weight is on track, you'll feel like you're more in control of your diabetes, your body, and your health.
Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: August 2013
|National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases This group conducts and supports research on many serious diseases affecting public health.|
|American Diabetes Association (ADA) The ADA website includes news, information, tips, and recipes for people with diabetes.|
|Joslin Diabetes Center The website of this Boston-based center has information about how to monitor blood sugar and manage diabetes.|
|Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International (JDRF) JDRF's mission is to find a cure for diabetes and its complications through the support of research.|
|Diabetes Control: Why It's Important People who have diabetes may hear or read a lot about controlling, or managing, the condition. But what is diabetes control and why is it so important?|
|Type 2 Diabetes: What Is It? Teens with type 2 diabetes and have to pay close attention to what they eat and do.|
|Type 1 Diabetes: What Is It? Diabetes is a disease that affects how the body uses glucose, a sugar that is the body's main source of fuel. In type 1 diabetes, glucose can't get into the body's cells where it's needed.|
|Diabetes Center Our Diabetes Center provides information and advice for teens about treating and living with diabetes.|
|Can Diabetes Be Prevented? The things you do now could help prevent diabetes later, depending on the type of diabetes. Here's the scoop on diabetes prevention.|
|When Being Overweight Is a Health Problem A couple of pounds of extra body fat are not a health risk for most people. But when people are severely overweight, it can cause health problems.|
|Metabolic Syndrome Metabolic syndrome is a signal that someone could be on the road to serious health problems. Find out more about it in this article for teens.|
|Long-Term Complications of Diabetes Thinking about your diabetes a little bit now - and taking some steps to prevent problems - may make things easier down the road.|
|Other Diseases That Are More Common in People With Type 1 Diabetes People with type 1 diabetes have a greater risk for certain health problems, such as thyroid disorders, celiac disease, and Addison's disease. Find out more about these autoimmune disorders.|
|Body Mass Index (BMI) One of the biggest questions guys and girls have as they grow and develop is whether they're the right weight. One place to start is by learning about body mass index, or BMI.|
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