Diabesity: an Epidemic Explained
Diabetes + Obesity = Diabesity
Having diabesity doesn’t necessarily mean you have full-blown type 2 diabetes or even that you’re overweight or obese, at least in the early stages of this disease. As Dr. Mark Hyman writes in Experience Life:
“…diabesity describes this continuum of metabolic imbalance and disease that ranges all the way from mild blood-sugar imbalance to insulin resistance to full-blown diabetes…If you have diabetes, you have diabesity. But you don’t have to be a diabetic — or even have symptoms — to be suffering from diabesity.”2
Insulin resistance leading to elevated blood glucose levels is an early symptoms associated with both obesity (or overweight) and type 2 diabetes,3 thus making “diabesity” the perfect word to describe this condition.
Diabesity: Not a Pandemic?
The diabesity epidemic is a result of the twin epidemics of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Consider these statistics:
- More than 1.9 billion adults worldwide are overweight; of those, more than 650 million are obese.4 (Obesity is characterized by an excessive amount of body fat that substantially increases your risk of type 2 diabetes and other health conditions.)
- Globally, rates of obesity are nearly triple of what they were in 1975.5
- Globally, the total number of people living with diabetes was 171 million, a figure that is expected to rise to 366 million in 2030.6
- In the US, more than 34 million adults have diabetes, and more than 88 million adults have pre-diabetes.7
(Pre-diabetes increases your risk of developing full-blown type 2 diabetes if appropriate dietary and lifestyle changes are not implemented.) In 1980, just 5.53 million people in the US had been diagnosed with diabetes.8
As you can see, the rates of obesity and diabetes have significantly risen over the past few decades. This represents a public health crisis.
Diabesity is deadly
This disease state is associated with several serious and even deadly conditions and diseases, including:
- Type 2 diabetes
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Heart Disease
- Kidney disease/failure
- Dental problems
- Eye conditions/blindness
- Nerve damage/limb amputations(s)
- Erectile dysfunction
- Some cancers
- Sleep apnea
- Gallbladder disease
- Fatty liver disease
- Osteoarthritis 9, 10
*Complications associated with diabetes and/or obesity.
These conditions not only increase health care costs for patients and health care facilities, but also result in increased absenteeism at work and reduced productivity. In fact, the economic burden of diabesity alone on the world economy is expected to reach $490 billion in 2030.11
Preventing the diabetes + obesity combination
Here are 4 proven tips for preventing diabesity:
Lose weight. Being overweight or obese significantly increases your risk of diabetes.
Get regular physical activity. Exercise has been shown to regulate your blood glucose levels and increase insulin sensitivity, which automatically slashes your risk of diabesity. 12
Improve the quality of your diet. Eat more non-starchy vegetables, nutrient dense proteins, and whole food fats. Eat fewer highly processed foods, starchy carbs, and foods with added sugar.
Get 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Research suggests that lack of sleep may slow metabolism, leading to weight gain.13
Preventing diabesity is possible with these tips, and it can add quality years to your life!
1- Kalra S. Diabesity. J Pak Med Assoc. 2013 Apr;63(4):532-4. PMID: 23905459.
2- Hyman M. United States of Diabesity. Experience Life. Feb 1, 2020. Accessed Dec 2, 2020. https://experiencelife.com/article/united-states-of-diabesity/
3- Kraegen EW, Cooney GJ, Turner N. Muscle insulin resistance: A case of fat overconsumption, not mitochondrial dysfunction. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Jun 2008, 105 (22) 7627-7628; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0803901105
4- World Health Organization. Obesity and overweight. WHO. Apr 1, 2020. Accessed Dec 2, 2020. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/obesity-and-overweight
5- World Health Organization. Obesity and overweight. WHO. Apr 1, 2020. Accessed Dec 2, 2020. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/obesity-and-overweight
6- Wild S, Roglic G, Green A, Sicree R, King H. Global Prevalence of Diabetes
Estimates for the year 2000 and projections for 2030. Diabetes Care 2004 May; 27(5): 1047-1053. https://doi.org/10.2337/diacare.27.5.1047
7- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Diabetes Fast Facts. CDC. Page last reviewed: Jun 11, 2020. Accessed Dec 2, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/quick-facts.html
8- CDC’s Division of Diabetes Translation. Long-term Trends in Diabetes. CDC. Apr 2017. Accessed Dec 2, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/statistics/slides/long_term_trends.pdf
9- WebMD Medical Reference. Diabetes Complications. WebMD. Reviewed by Khatri M on Feb 15, 2020. Accessed Dec 2, 2020. https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/diabetes-complications#:~:text=1%20Heart%20Disease.%20Heart%20disease%20is%20one%20of,risk%20of%20serious%20dental%20and%20oral%20health%20problems.
10- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease. Health Risks of Overweight & Obesity. NIH. Feb 2018. Accessed Dec 2, 2020. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/weight-management/adult-overweight-obesity/health-risks
11- Farag YM, Gaballa MR. Diabesity: an overview of a rising epidemic. Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2011 Jan;26(1):28-35. doi: 10.1093/ndt/gfq576. Epub 2010 Nov 2. PMID: 21045078.
12- Mayo Clinic Staff. Diabetes prevention: 5 tips for taking control. Mayo Clinic. Mar 15, 2019. Accessed Dec 2, 2020. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/type-2-diabetes/in-depth/diabetes-prevention/art-20047639
13- Auman-Bauer K. Sleep deprivation may lead to slower metabolism, weight gain. Penn State News. Sep 20, 2019. Accessed Dec 2, 2020. https://news.psu.edu/story/589116/2019/09/20/research/sleep-deprivation-may-lead-slower-metabolism-weight-gain