Obesity and Diabetes
Doctors and researchers have found that obesity and diabetes are connected. Persons who are obese are at high risk for developing Type 2 diabetes (also known as "insulin-resistant" or "adult-onset" diabetes), particularly if a close family member is affected with diabetes. Therefore, it becomes very important to maintain a healthy body weight throughout your life in order to protect yourself from developing a chronic disease like diabetes.
As nurses associated with the Genetics of the Acadian People projects, we have been asked questions at public forums concerning obesity and diabetes. The following is a list of some of the most commonly asked questions, together with our answers and advice.
Is obesity caused
by a specific genetic defect?
then, is the major cause of obesity?
my family is fat. Can I assume that
I am predisposed to being obese?
How do I know
if I am overweight or obese when
all of my family is heavy?
BMI = Weight/height2 x 703
For Instance, a six-foot tall person
(6 x 12= 72 inches) who weighs 210 pounds would
have a BMI of
The following numbers are good indicators of whether are not you are overweight.
Underweight = BMI of
19.8 or less
How can I determine
if my diet is causing obesity in
my family and myself?
What is "too
high"? How many calories and
fat grams can I eat every day and
not gain weight?
can I know the calories and fat
grams when I eat food from a fast-food
What types of
foods should I eat every day?
My family really
likes Cajun foods. What can I do
to make these healthier?
Is there a pill
I can take to help me lose weight?
What type of
exercise is best?
I pass the family tendency to be
overweight on to my children?
What are some
of the health problems my family
and I can have if we are overweight
I know a lot
of people who have diabetes, but
I don't really understand what the
disease involves. What exactly is
Diabetes Mellitus is a disease of high blood sugar. It is dangerous, even fatal, to have too much or too little sugar in the blood. The level of sugar in a person's blood is very important in maintaining day-to-day and even minute-to-minute health, and one of the body's major functions is to control blood sugar at proper levels. Controlling blood sugar involves the liver, pancreas, kidneys, and fat. It's the pancreas that lowers blood sugar by producing a hormone known as insulin. Insulin removes sugar from the blood and forces it into cells, where it is used to make energy for the body.
There are two types
of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2.
People who have Type 1 diabetes
do not produce enough (or any) insulin
and need to take insulin injections
every day to help regulate their
blood sugar levels. This type of
diabetes is also known as Insulin-Dependent
Diabetes Mellitus (IDDM). People
with Type 2 diabetes produce insulin,
but the cells of the body cannot
respond properly to insulin. This
type of diabetes is also known as
Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus
(NIDDM), and this is the type of
the disease that a person has when
he or she is "insulin resistant."
Many chronic health problems can
occur to individuals with diabetes,
especially if the blood sugar levels
are not controlled. These problems
include kidney failure, blindness,
and problems in blood circulation,
which may lead to amputations.
My mother has
diabetes. Does that mean that I
will become a diabetic?
would be important to know what
type of diabetes you mother has.
Type 1 diabetes has a strong genetic
component that appears to involve
several different genes. It is formally
called "Juvenile Diabetes",
and it is the second most common
childhood illness in developing
countries. It is thought that people
need to inherit genes from both
parents in order to get Type 1 diabetes.
Some environmental risk factors
thought to play a role in triggering
the development of Type 1 diabetes
are such things as cold weather,
exposure to viruses, being Caucasian,
and infant diet (having formula
and an early introduction of foods).
What is the
chance that my children will become
How can I tell
if I am developing diabetes?
If you have any
concerns about whether you have
diabetes, you should talk to your
health care provider as soon as
possible. This condition is very
serious and needs to be identified
and treated according to what is
specific to you and your body. The
sooner you visit your health care
provider, the healthier the rest
of your life will be.
Christine A. Pollock
Jacqueline O. Favret
How to Learn More
This is the American
Diabetic Association website. It
contains basic information about
diabetes, as well as current news
on health issues related to diabetes,
local diabetic information, recipes
for diabetics, and a section on
This is the site for
the American Obesity Association,
whose main mission is education,
research and community action. There
are a variety of topics including
information on obesity, treatment,
and medical conditions associated
with obesity. Membership applications
are offered on this site.
This is the site for the Orion Township Public Library. Access the Public Library and they click on "useful internet sites" and then click on the "medicine and health care" section for various health information on a variety of topics, including "Ask the Doctor", nutrition and fitness, and diabetes. In the nutrition and fitness section, you can find out the nutritional values of all foods, including fast foods.