What is diabesity?
Obesity can be defined based on the body mass index (BMI) measurements. It is associated with multiple diseases such as metabolic syndrome, increased cardiovascular events, diabetes, and more. As one of the major risk factor contributing to diabetes, the increased body fat found in people suffering from obesity may lead to insulin resistance. Since there is a strong association between obesity and diabetes, the term diabesity has been used.
Although the majority of type 2 diabetics are obese (approximately 80%), only 10% of obese individuals have type 2 diabetes. Evidence shows that most obese individuals still produce enough amount of insulin to compensate for the resistance to insulin. So, why is obesity linked to diabetes if only 10% of obese individuals have diabetes?
Genetic factors were found to play an important role in determining the susceptibility of individuals to diabetes. Researchers have found that there are 19 different variant genes for type 2 diabetes so far. Since 80% of type 2 diabetics are obese, it still points to individuals who are obese have a higher risk of type 2 diabetes compared to non-obese individuals.
Diabesity includes abdominal obesity (increased fat in the abdominal area leading to a “spare tire” syndrome), high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and high blood glucose.
Diabesity currently affects a billion of the population worldwide, 100 million Americans (roughly 1/3 or the American population), and 50% of Americans over the age of 65 years old. It will soon be the leading cause of disability and death, if not already. The good news is that this condition that can be reversed with proper patient education on their lifestyle habits such as recommending exercise, controlling diet, quit smoking, and having regular check-ups with their doctor.
Chadt A, Scherneck S, Joost HG, Al-Hasani H. Molecular links between obesity and diabetes: “Diabesity”. Accessed 2/21/2017.