Diabetes is one of the most prevalent health issues in existence today. Experts believe that it is not too far when diabetes would overpower cardiovascular issues as one of the most highly spread health conditions. It is common to see many people avoiding sweets and sugary beverages when you look around. Some of them do it as they do not want to gain weight. At the same time, some are bound to do it as they have a medical condition like diabetes.
There are several factors can lead to diabetes. However, one of the most common factors is obesity. As per data, overweight and obesity (BMI over 25 kg/m2) have been estimated to account for about 65–80% of new cases of type 2 diabetes. The risk is a function of the age of onset and the duration of obesity and weight gain during adult life. It means that a higher BMI can pose a greater risk of diabetes.
The article focuses on various risk factors for diabetes and highlights the role of BMI as a significant risk factor.
BMI: An Overview
BMI stands for body mass index. It is one of the most significant ways to assess whether you are overweight. The BMI calculation involves taking into consideration your height and body weight. The mathematical calculation is dividing your body mass (weight) by your height to calculate a value that suggests whether you have healthy body weight.
As per WHO, you can divide people into different categories as per their BMI values. The number obtained from calculating this formula categorises people into skinny, healthy, overweight, and obese. Let us understand the different stages of the BMI chart.
BMI Values 18.5 or below: A person is considered underweight
- 18.5-24.9: A person is in the healthy and normal weight category
- 25-29.9: It is the Pre-obese category
- 30-34.9: Obesity class 1
- 35-39.9: Obesity class 2
- 40 and above: Obesity class 3
Although the formula to calculate BMI is simple, you can also check your BMI at home using various online BMI calculators. If you fall into the Pre-obese or Obese categories, you should take immediate steps to bring it down to the healthy and normal weight category.
Diabetes: Mechanism and its Types
Diabetes is a chronic medical condition that results from high sugar levels in your body. It is a result of affected glucose conversion to energy. According to studies, most of our food is broken down into sugar to fuel the body. The broken-down glucose goes into the bloodstream to help provide energy. The hormone responsible for it is insulin, as it regulates blood sugar levels in your body. However, if you have diabetes, the body reduces insulin production or inhibits insulin functioning. If not controlled, it can lead to chronic diseases like cardiovascular issues, vision loss or kidney diseases.
There are two significant types of diabetes- type 1 and type 2.
Type 1 Diabetes
It is an autoimmune condition where your body mistakenly attacks itself. In this condition, your immune system inhibits or stops the body from insulin production. Approximately 5-10% of total diabetic patients have type 1 diabetes. It is more common in children, adolescents and teenagers. As per the CDC research, currently, there is no cure for type-1 diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes
It is a medical condition where your body cannot regulate insulin levels and fails to keep your blood sugar levels under control. According to CDC reports, about 90-95% of diabetic patients have type-2 diabetes. It develops over the years and is most common in adults. However, unlike type-2 diabetes, various measures can help prevent the condition or regulate its symptoms from further causing damage. Some of the most common ways to do this are weight management, healthy eating habits and exercise.
Risk Factors of Diabetes
Several factors, including obesity, genetics, and medical conditions, can increase the risk of diabetes. However, the two most significant causes of diabetes are genetics and obesity.
Factors that may increase your risk of type 2 diabetes include:
- Being overweight or obese is the leading risk of diabetes.
- An unequal fat distribution in your body is one of the significant causes of type-2 diabetes. In addition, fat storage, mainly in your abdomen rather than your hips and thighs, indicates a greater risk.
- The less active you are, the greater your risk. Physical activity helps manage weight and keeps you active. In addition, it uses glucose as energy and makes your cells more insulin sensitive to insulin.
- Family history can also be a cause of diabetes. So, your risk of type 2 diabetes increases if your parent or sibling has type 2 diabetes.
- Although it’s unclear why, people of certain races and ethnicities, including Black, Hispanic, Native American and Asian, and Pacific Islanders, are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than white people.
- Increased risk of type-2 diabetes can result from low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, which is good cholesterol. In addition, high levels of triglycerides also pose a significant risk.
- Age is also a significant risk of type 2 diabetes. As per experts, the risk of type 2 diabetes increases as you age, especially after age 45.
- Prediabetes is another risk factor. It is a condition where your blood sugar level is higher than average. However, it is not high enough to be called diabetes. If left untreated, it often progresses to type 2 diabetes.
- Type 2 diabetes can also occur due to Pregnancy-related risks. It is especially true if you develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
A study by the National Library of Medicine says that type 2 diabetes does not have such a clear image of inheritance. However, there are good chances of developing type 2 diabetes among parents to siblings. It is due to gene transfer from parent to child. The study also says that other than genetics, the person’s lifestyle, body and eating habits pose a more significant threat to diabetes.
BMI: A Significant Risk Factor for Type-2 Diabetes
The most significant cause of type-2 diabetes is an unhealthy body weight. Experts often use BMI calculation to assess whether you are overweight. Hence, harmful BMI levels are a significant risk factor for diabetes.
As per research findings published by the European Society of Cardiology, a study on 445,765 participants of the UK Biobank gave conclusive evidence of BMI’s role in diabetes. The research found that people in the highest BMI group (average 34.5 kg/m2) had an 11-fold increased risk of diabetes than participants in the lowest BMI group (average 21.7 kg/m2). Furthermore, the highest BMI group had a greater likelihood of developing diabetes than all other BMI groups, regardless of genetic risk. These findings indicate that BMI is a much more potent risk factor for diabetes than genetic predisposition.
Researchers believe obesity is the leading risk factor for several non-communicable diseases, particularly type 2 diabetes. Research provides enough data on type 2 diabetes and its association with unhealthy BMI.
So, it is clear from the above research that BMI has more indulgence in diabetes than genetic factors.
Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes
Generally, a person who has type 2 diabetes shows the following symptoms:
- Increased Hunger
- Increased Thirst
- Unhealthy Weight Gain
- Frequent Urination
- Blurry Vision
- Extreme Fatigue
- Sores that Heal Slowly
Other than these common symptoms, men and women experience some different symptoms. For example, men with type 2 diabetes have reduced sexual drive and suffer erectile dysfunction. At the same time, women can have urinary tract infections and dry and itchy skin.
Type 2 Diabetes: Prevention Tips
Various factors can help you manage your diabetes and prevent it. First, working on the risk factors mentioned above can help reduce the risk. Furthermore, here are some prevention tips that will help you reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
The foods you eat and your eating habits play a crucial role in diabetes management. Hence, making some dietary modifications can help regulate diabetes symptoms and manage diabetes better. Although you should make any dietary modification under the guidance of an expert dietitian or nutritionist, some of the common tips are:
Reduce Carbohydrate Intake
Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy. It is the fastest digesting macronutrient. However, reducing carb intake can benefit because carbs are a source of sugar and glucose. In addition, cutting down on carbohydrate intake can help manage diabetes symptoms. However, you should not do it mindlessly because your body requires carbohydrates to function normally.
Drink Enough Water
Water does not contain any macros. Drinking a good amount of water helps get toxins out of your body. It also aids in lowering type 2 diabetes risk.
Portion Size Control
Overeating in a single meal or having two to three meals a day is not a healthy practice for people with diabetes. Instead, you should focus on eating five to six small meals. Doing that will improve your metabolism and enhance immunity to fight against various diseases.
Eat More Fibre-Rich Foods
Consuming a fibre-rich diet not only helps you to have a healthy gut but also helps to prevent diabetes. In addition, prediabetic people who follow a high fibre diet have fewer insulin fluctuations.
Besides making dietary modifications, you should pay special attention to lifestyle habits. Some of the everyday lifestyle habits that you should follow to prevent and manage diabetes are:
Exercise and physical activity are essential whether you have diabetes or not. However, when you have diabetes, you should ensure that you focus on regular exercise. It keeps you active, helps manage weight and thus, helps regulate diabetes symptoms.
Proper rest time is mandatory, but being physically active keeps you healthy. Do not sit for long hours on the same chair. Instead, try to indulge in simple activities like walking and jogging. Studying or working in a single sit of five or six hours puts stress on your spine. Prolonged sitting makes you unhealthy and fat, which may lead to the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Maintain Healthy Body Weight
Being overweight is considered the primary factor for getting type 2 diabetes. So, if you lose weight, you are improving your lifestyle and reducing the risk of diabetes.
Quit Smoking and Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol, Smoking and tobacco consumption are significant causes of cancer. In addition, it also worsens your diabetes symptoms. Hence, it is best to avoid them. Especially men who are addicted to smoking should stop it immediately. Quitting this habit will reduce the risk of these two chronic diseases.
The Bottom Line
Be it diabetes or any other discomfort or disease; we do not want unwanted restrictions in our life. However, in most cases, we can avoid getting into such situations by maintaining our overall health. The same is with type-2 diabetes. Ensure that you maintain healthy body weight to reduce the risk of diabetes. BMI is an early indicator of your body weight going above normal. So, try to keep your BMI levels in check.
Try to maintain a healthy BMI and follow a proper diet full of vitamins and fibres. It helps your body to gain immunity against such chronic diseases. In addition, eating enough proteins and other minerals and nutrients will help you stay healthy and reduce the risk of any chronic condition like diabetes.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. What BMI is at risk of type 2 diabetes?
A. Yes, unhealthy and high BMI levels are a significant risk of type 2 diabetes. One of the common causes of type 2 diabetes is excess body weight. BMI is one of the most commonly used tools to assess whether you are overweight. So, if your BMI is at 30 or more, you are at risk of getting type 2 diabetes. The higher your BMI goes from this value, the greater the chances of getting type 2 diabetes.
Q. How is type 2 diabetes correlated with body mass?
A. Increase in body fat is directly related to your body’s metabolism. Overweight people have poor metabolism and live unhealthy lifestyles. As a result, they are more prone to diseases such as type 2 diabetes.
Q. Is BMI a good indicator for diabetes?
A. BMI is not an indicator of diabetes. It is an indicator that assesses your body’s mass. It is an indicator of whether you are obese or not. Since obesity is one of the primary causes of type 2 diabetes, BMI indirectly helps you assess the risk of diabetes.
Q. What are the chances of getting type 2 diabetes?
A. If you assess the global volume of diabetes cases, the number is constantly rising. However, no indicator can help to project the chances conclusively. However, we are aware of certain factors that can lead to diabetes. For example, factors like age, gender, weight, genes etc., are factors that can lead to diabetes.
Q. Who is susceptible to diabetes?
A. As per experts, people above 45 have a higher risk of developing diabetes. In addition, people with a family history of diabetes, overweight people, people from specific origins etc., are at a greater risk.
Q. What is a diabetic belly?
A. When you eat food, it moves through the digestive tract. If these tracts get damaged, and food does not get digested properly. It is a condition called Gastroparesis. The primary cause of gastroparesis is diabetes. The belly of a gastroparesis person seems bloated, and hence, it is called a diabetic belly.
Q. Can you be skinny and have type 2 diabetes?
A. Yes, even skinny people can develop diabetes. Around 10% to 15% of the total diabetic patients are skinny. It is a condition called lean diabetes.
Q. What percentage of type 2 diabetes are overweight?
A. Research and surveys claim that 85% to 90% of diabetes patients are obese. On the other hand, the rest falls under the healthy or underweight category. Hence, it is essential to maintain healthy body weight to reduce the risk of diseases like diabetes and other chronic diseases.
Q, What are the limitations of using BMI to assess health?
A. Although BMI is an excellent way to determine the health of an average person, it has some limitations. It works on the principle of calculating weight and height ratio. Since the human body weight also depends on the muscle weight, bone weight etc., it can sometimes be challenging to rely on BMI results for healthy body weight. However, BMI is an early indicator, and it can help you work towards preventing various obesity-related diseases.
Q. Is type 2 diabetes preventable?
A. Yes, it is preventable if you follow a healthy diet and workout plan. However, the prevention of diabetes is not limited to these factors only. You have to understand the risk factors of type 2 diabetes and avoid falling under any of those categories to prevent or reduce the chances of type 2 diabetes. But, the key to preventing diabetes or any chronic disease is eating healthy, exercising and leading a healthy lifestyle.