In 2021, 537 million people in the world were affected by diabetes; and 800 million adults suffered from obesity. These alarming figures concern the two “diseases of the century”, which depend on several genetic, environmental, or dietary factors. Definitions, causes, symptoms, treatments: here is everything you should know about obesity and diabetes.
Obesity and diabetes: what are they?
Obesity is a chronic disease of the fatty tissue, characterized by changes in the fatty tissue and an excess of fat mass. This situation carries multiple health risks, including a reduction in life expectancy for the sufferer. It results from an imbalance between energy intake and expenditure, which leads to an accumulation of reserves in the fatty tissues.
Generally, excess body fat can be measured by calculating the Body Mass Index (BMI). This method consists of dividing one’s weight (in kg) by the square of one’s height (in meters). According to this calculation, moderate obesity is defined as a BMI between 30 and 35. Severe obesity is characterized by a BMI between 35 and 40. Above 40, the person is massively or morbidly obese.
In addition to the BMI, obesity can be identified by measuring the waist circumference. Excessive abdominal fat is associated with the risk of diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Abdominal obesity is defined as a man whose waist circumference exceeds 100 cm, and a woman whose waist circumference exceeds 88 cm (excluding pregnancy).
Obesity can therefore favor the appearance of various diseases, including diabetes. As a matter of fact, diabetes is a chronic disease characterized by permanent hyperglycemia: the fasting blood sugar level is higher than 1.26g/L. It often requires lifelong medical treatment.
There are three types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes, formerly known as juvenile diabetes, is an autoimmune disease that develops from childhood. It accounts for 6% of diabetics. The majority of people who suffer from diabetes are affected by type 2 diabetes, which develops over the years and only appears after the age of 40. It affects 90% of diabetics. Finally, gestational diabetes occurs in pregnant women: their blood sugar levels rise considerably during pregnancy and return to normal once they have given birth. These women remain at risk of pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes later on.
Who is most at risk of diabetes and obesity?
According to the International Diabetes Federation’s Atlas 2021, nearly 537 million people worldwide will have diabetes in 2021. This includes 61 million Europeans. There will also be almost 6.7 million diabetic deaths in the same year, an increase of 2.5 million deaths compared to 2019.
Although diabetes affects every country in the world, some people are more affected by this chronic disease. Some populations are genetically more susceptible: this is the case for Africans, Asians, Latin Americans, and indigenous populations in North America. People living in low-income households are at greater risk of developing diabetes because of their unequal access to care. In effect, due to a lack of resources, many countries in the world cannot screen their population for pre-diabetes. This favors the development of diabetes. Likewise, heredity plays an important role in the transmission of type 2 diabetes: a person whose parents suffer from type 2 diabetes has a 70% chance of inheriting the disease.
Obesity affects a quarter of the world’s adult population according to the World Health Organization (WHO). In the European Union, 25% of 18-24 year old and 66% of 65-74 year old are overweight. Obesity therefore concerns various age groups as it depends on many factors.
The environment can contribute to the development of obesity. This is the case in North America, where junk food reigns supreme, encouraging the development of disease. Ageing can also lead to obesity, as the metabolism functions more slowly. Heredity, bulimia, stress, or psychological distress can also explain the development of obesity or compulsive eating. It is also possible that a woman who has had multiple pregnancies struggles to regain a healthy weight: this can lead to the development of obesity. Similarly, heavy alcohol consumption or eating habits that are too fatty, sugary or in large quantities can increase the risk of developing obesity.
Causes and symptoms of diabetes and obesity
The causes of diabetes are multiple and depend on several criteria. Firstly, a sedentary lifestyle has increased the risk of contracting this disease: lack of physical activity, junk food and smoking are all key factors in the rise of type 2 diabetes. Being overweight or obese can also lead to diabetes, as it promotes insulin resistance in tissues, increasing the risk of early pancreatic exhaustion. Finally, age and family history are also key factors in the onset of diabetes.
The onset of diabetes can be detected by a number of symptoms:
- intense fatigue;
- excessive hunger and thirst;
- heavy urine production;
- severe weight loss;
- skin problems;
- slow wound healing;
- yeast infections;
- numb or tingling feet and toes.
With regard to obesity, the causes are partly similar to those of diabetes. High consumption of foods with too much fat and sugar can lead to obesity. Lack of physical activity can also be a factor. Heredity and certain diseases (metabolic disorders, hypothyroidism, stress) can also influence the development of obesity.
There are a number of symptoms that can be used to identify a case of obesity:
- high weight;
- excess fat on the stomach, hips, thighs, buttocks, torso, neck or face;
- labored and weakened breathing;
- excessive sweating;
- sleep apnea;
- joint pain, especially in the back and knees.
What type of treatment can be used to remedy obesity and diabetes?
Dietary and medical solutions to obesity
As a serious and chronic disease, obesity cannot be cured by a simple diet. Real changes in lifestyle and eating habits are needed to combat obesity in the long term.
Among the available solutions, it is possible to work with a nutritionist in the hope of losing weight gradually and in a supervised manner. This is supported by a personalized program of physical and sporting activities on a daily basis. Group or individual psychotherapy can also be considered to change the relationship with food while feeling supported and encouraged. Some drug solutions may also be envisioned, especially for people who are morbidly obese.
However, some cases of obesity require surgical intervention when the disease represents a short-term danger to the individual’s health. In such cases, there are several options: surgery or gastric bypass, stapling of the stomach walls, reduction of the size of the stomach by placing a band, etc.
Possible treatments to prevent pre-diabetes
While type 1 diabetes appears at an early age, type 2 diabetes develops over the years and generally appears after the age of 40. In both cases, a well-balanced diet and regular physical activity are required to treat diabetes. Drug treatments can also be considered, either orally or by injection. This treatment must necessarily be adapted to the patient’s profile and the evolution of their disease. It logically follows that there is no single treatment for diabetes: each individual must be subjected to a tailored set of measures to combat the disease.
However, type 2 diabetes can be cured if it is addressed early enough. As a reminder, pre-diabetes is characterized by fasting blood glucose levels of 1g/L to 1.25g/L, but not sufficient to diagnose diabetes. At the pre-diabetes stage, the patient’s disease is far from definitive. Some dietary supplements can help prevent the onset of diabetes.
Pep2Dia® can help. This dietary supplement helps support healthy blood sugar levels. This product is the first ever patented dairy hydrolysate proven to Help to maintain healthy blood sugar levels after meals. Developed and manufactured by Ingredia, this product contains an Alanine-Proline dipeptide whose effectiveness has been scientifically proven. This simple and effective solution provides the maintaining and support of healthy blood sugar levels in the most natural way.