Weight Loss: The Link Between Weight & Diabetes

According to the World Health Organization, diabetes affects approximately 422 million people worldwide¹. It is estimated that three-and-a-half million South Africans (about 6% of the population) suffer from diabetes and there are many more who remain undiagnosed².
Around 90% of these worldwide diabetes prevalence cases are type 2 diabetes; a condition in which the body does not produce enough or respond properly to insulin. This hormone, produced by beta cells in the pancreas, helps a sugar called glucose in the blood to enter cells in muscle, fat, and liver to be used for energy. For a long time, Type 2 diabetes has been considered a lifelong condition that worsens over time¹.
Recently, a clinical trial showed that nearly half of individuals with type 2 diabetes succeeded in reversing their diabetic state after a weight-loss achieved within 6 years of their diabetic diagnosis¹.
Even though longer term studies are underway, initial research seems to show that by losing weight, patients with type 2 diabetes can recover and maintain control over blood glucose concentrations¹.
“Both obesity and inactivity are precipitating causes for type 2 diabetes. Both result in insulin resistance, which, in the face of dysfunctional or fragile beta-cells may result in diabetes. Type 2 diabetes results due to a combination of insulin resistance and a reduced capacity of the beta cell to make enough insulin to overcome this resistance. Type 2 diabetes is considered a disease of Western lifestyle – “sloth and gluttony’³” says Dr Larry Distiller, Principal Physician and Executive Chairman at the Centre for Diabetes Education in Houghton Johannesburg. “Preventing diabetes can be done by maintaining an acceptable body weight, eating healthily, and regular exercise,” he says³.
Type 2 diabetes has a strong link to family history⁴.
Dr Alkesh Magan, a specialist Physician /Endocrinologist in the Division of Endocrinology Diabetology and Metabolism at the Centre For Integrative Health at Sandton Medi-Clinic in Johannesburg, says that type 2 diabetes is largely a disease of lifestyle.
“For most individuals with a strong family history of the disease, paying careful attention to lifestyle with regards to good nutrition and regular physical exercise is of paramount importance,”he says and advises people to avoid refined processed food which have a high glycaemic index⁵.

Signs and symptoms of diabetes can include the following⁶:

  • Unusual Thirst
  • Frequent Urination
  • Unusual Weight Loss
  • Extreme Fatigue or Lack of Energy
  • Blurred Vision
  • Frequent or Recurring Infections
  • Cuts and Bruises that are slow to heal, boils and itching skin
  • Tingling and numbness in the hands or feet.
However, many people who have type 2 diabetes may show no symptoms⁶.
Dr Distiller explains that losing weight can affect insulin levels. “Obesity is a major cause of insulin resistance. Losing weight reduces insulin resistance, or more correctly makes the body more insulin sensitive. Therefore, less insulin needs to be produced to exert its effect on glucose metabolism and maintain a normal glucose profile. Beta cells therefore are less under stress and can cope better with the bodies insulin needs,” he says³.
Prescription medication together with lifestyle adjustments such as a healthy eating and exercise plan, can help kick start a weight loss journey, or can help someone get back on track⁷.
Speak to your doctor about options for weight loss management or go to www.ilivelite.co.za for more information or for dietician formulated, kilojoule specific meal plans, which are initiated and guided by your GP for individualised kilojoule intake.
DISCLAIMER: This editorial has been commissioned and brought to you by iNova Pharmaceuticals. This editorial has content that includes independent comments and opinions from independent healthcare providers and are the opinions and experiences of that particular healthcare provider which are not necessarily that of iNova Pharmaceuticals. Content in this editorial is for general information only and is not intended to provide medical or other professional advice. For more information on your medical condition and treatment options, speak to your healthcare professional.
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References: 1. Why weight loss produces remission of type 2 diabetes in some patients – Science Daily (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/08/180802141722.htm) Website accessed on 14 November 2018. 2. MHealth 24 – Prevalence of diabetes in South Africa (https://www.health24.com/Medical/Diabetes/About-diabetes/Diabetes-tsunami-hits-South-Africa-20130210) Website accessed on 23 October 2018. 3. Q&A with Dr Larry Distiller via email on 11 October 2018 (unpaid). 4. American Diabetes Association – The Genetics of Diabetes (http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/genetics-of-diabetes.html) Website accessed on 23 October 2018. 5. Q&A with Dr Alkesh Magan via email on10 October 2018 (unpaid). 6. Diabetes South Africa – What are the symptoms? (https://www.diabetessa.org.za/what-are-the-symptoms/) Website accessed on 23 October 2018. 7. Phelan S, Wadden TA. Combining Behavioural and Pharmacological Treatments for Obesity. Obes Res 2002;10(6):560-574