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Does Obesity Cause Diabetes?

O. Wallace
O. Wallace

Many recent studies have shown a direct link between obesity and the diagnosis of type II diabetes, or non-insulin-dependent diabetes. Also known as adult onset diabetes, type II is increasingly being diagnosed in overweight children and adolescents. In this type of diabetes, the body produces insulin, but interference from the complications of obesity doesn’t allow the body to use it as it should.

The body of a type II diabetic, due to an overproduction of insulin, can no longer produce the correct amount to maintain healthy blood sugar levels and begins to develop a resistance to insulin. Ninety percent of diabetics are diagnosed with type II diabetes. Usually, this diagnosis comes after 40 years of age, but the condition is now increasingly found in children. Since 1968, weight gain in American children has doubled, and today, approximately 25% of American children are obese. This increase in weight has been directly linked to the rise in type II diabetes in both children and adults.

Approximately 25% of American children are obese.
Approximately 25% of American children are obese.

Studies have shown that an increase in abdominal fat is linked to glucose intolerance, as well as to overeating and general obesity. A body mass index (BMI) of over 40 has been linked to a higher chance of developing diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a healthy BMI ranges from 18.5 to 24.9. Obese individuals often have diets high in carbohydrates, starches and sugars, and low in protein and good fats. The way in which these foods are digested is related to how the body processes sugar.

Regular exercise may help prevent obesity.
Regular exercise may help prevent obesity.

Like obesity, type II is highly preventable. Even mild weight loss can lower one's risk of developing type II diabetes by as much as five to ten percent. The CDC recommends a well balanced, healthy diet, along with moderate exercise on a regular basis, as the first steps in preventing both issues. Reducing stress levels can also go a long way in preventing diabetes.

Studies have linked obesity with type 2 diabetes.
Studies have linked obesity with type 2 diabetes.

For those suffering from both conditions, just 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most days of the week can be very useful in starting the weight loss process. Studies have shown that with weight loss, one can reduce the amount of medication required to control the disease, and some can completely control the disease with diet and a healthy lifestyle.

Discussion Comments


To state the original thesis correctly it should have been phrased, "Obesity is a cause of type II diabetes" for the reason mentioned in the article, not "the" cause. Furthermore, if one is obese, there is a statistically higher chance that the obesity will contribute to other metabolic syndrome conditions, i.e. high blood pressure, heart disease, liver disease, type II diabetes, etc.


I have Type II diabetes. I was exercising five times a week and eating healthy when I was diagnosed. I believe that my diabetes was brought on by stress. I get very frustrated when people assume that I got diabetes because I must have been lazy and stupid.


I think what somerset meant was that obesity can cause the onset of type two diabetes. Also, people who have family members are also at risk for developing the disease, and they can be of any size, shape, or color.


yeah somerset, get your facts straight. obesity is not a cause of type 2 diabetes! do some research before you claim anything.


Dieting without exercise does not work! Do not listen to anyone trying to sell you a diet program that claims you do not have to exercise. They only want to take your money. You must get up and move. Take a stroll at the mall or go for a walk in the morning or after dinner. Join a sport team or take a swim class. You will be amazed how much faster you will loose weight with exercise. Give the enormous amount of TV time and computer gaming the boot!


somerset, you are not right. There are many slim people who are active that have type 2 diabetes. Not everyone who has type 2 is greedy and lazy. get your facts straight.


"All the case studies" do not. Correlation is not the same as causality. Obesity and Type 2 diabetes correlate and that is very well established. The causal relationship is not. Obesity is an indicator of increased probability of having or developing Type 2 but is not necessarily a cause of type 2 diabetes even though it may contribute to when its onset occurs in individuals. There are studies that indicate Type 2 contributes to or causes obesity because of what it does to metabolism (see Camastra S, Bonora E, Del Prato S, Rett K, Weck M, Ferrannini E (December 1999). "Effect of obesity and insulin resistance on resting and glucose-induced thermogenesis in man. EGIR (European Group for the Study of Insulin Resistance)". Int. J. Obes. Relat. Metab. Disord. 23 (12): 1307–13).

The causes of Type 2 are very complex and genetic predisposition is a significant factor. Another factor is age. Other factors seem to involve very specific eating habits (especially high carbs, refined sugars and high fructose corn syrup), high sugars in the diet and the presence of polycarbonate chemicals in the environment and, consequently, the individual. Again, correlation is not causality and the studies that show these correlations point to where looking for causes may be fruitful.

Certain ethnic groups have many more persons genetically predisposed than others, most notably native americans, hispanics, blacks and amerasians. A highly disproportionate number of type 2 diabetics come from these 4 ethnic groups in the US and it is known to be genetic.

It is strongly conjectured that avoiding obesity delays onset although it is not known that it prevents eventual onset. This conjecture comes from observing that the increased incidence of youthful obesity strongly correlates with increased incidence of youthful type 2. But, it is not known whether the influence is simply earlier onset in individuals who would otherwise develop type 2 later in life or not.

It is known that gastric bypass surgery put 80 percent of the type 2s that had it into remission, but that information does not show whether it prevents recurrence later as the subject ages. The 20 percent that did not go into remission were typically older and had the condition for 20 years or more. That is, whether it simply delays onset or prevents it altogether. Again correlation is not causality.


is there any opinions about this matter thanks.


Hello, I am doing a case study at my school about this subject. Any help would be appreciated against or for the argument.


All the studies indicate this is a true statement. Obesity is the cause of type II diabetes, along with the lack of exercise.

The subject is getting more and more attention and probably in the next decade there will be more of awareness raising about nutrition and exercise, and changes in urban development, which would mean building neighborhoods where most of one's daily needs would be met within walking distances.

In the meantime, as always, it is each individual's own responsibility to eat healthy, meaning eating the way our grandparents used to eat, vegetable, fruit, unprocessed grains, fish and limited amounts of lean meats.

Exercise, something simple as walking around the block a few times, might be sufficient. It is said that 30 min of walking every day does wonders, health-wise. So it appears that taking a common sense approach to life is the right recipe for prevention of diabetes, and a host of other illnesses.

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    • Approximately 25% of American children are obese.
      By: olegmalyshev
      Approximately 25% of American children are obese.
    • Regular exercise may help prevent obesity.
      By: stokkete
      Regular exercise may help prevent obesity.
    • Studies have linked obesity with type 2 diabetes.
      By: bacalao
      Studies have linked obesity with type 2 diabetes.
    • People who experience unintended weight loss may have high glucose levels.
      By: Monkey Business
      People who experience unintended weight loss may have high glucose levels.
    • A body mass index of over 40 has been linked to a higher chance of developing diabetes.
      By: olly
      A body mass index of over 40 has been linked to a higher chance of developing diabetes.