Obesity in the United States is extreme. More than two-thirds of Americans are overweight. This includes about 20% of American children. About one-third of Americans are obese and many suffer from obesity related illnesses such as hypertension, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes.
We are aware of our obesity epidemic. Billions of dollars are spent each year on diet food, books, and pills to overcome obesity in America. About $75 billion is spent addressing obesity related illnesses. An additional $20 billion is lost in the workplace because of obesity related absence and illness.
Relationship Between Obesity and Diabetes
Statistics cited by the International Diabetes Foundation show a 40% increase in diabetes in the ten year period ending at 1999. The obesity rate went from 12% to 20% during that time period.
Infrequent exercise and high fat diets lead to obesity and statistics suggest that obesity causes diabetes. Eighty to ninety percent of people diagnosed with type II diabetes are also diagnosed as being obese.
People who are overweight tax their bodies, including the body’s ability to maintain correct blood glucose levels. Overweight people who lose just 5 to 10 percent of their body weight can prevent diabetes.
Type I and Type 2 Diabetes
Diabetes is a metabolic disorder characterized by an excess of glucose in the blood. Glucose is blood sugar and the main source of fuel for our bodies. The insulin that is produced in the pancreas moves the glucose in our blood to the cells in our bodies. If the amount of insulin produced is inadequate, the glucose in the blood builds to excess.
The two major types of diabetes are type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes.
Type I diabetes is insulin dependent diabetes and occurs when the pancreas does not make insulin. People with type I diabetes must take insulin. Type I diabetes is also referred to as juvenile onset diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is non-insulin dependent diabetes. Patients produce insulin but at insufficient levels. Normally, type 2 diabetes occurs in adults who are over age 30 and is often referred to as adult onset diabetes mellitus. Type 2 diabetes is far more common than type I diabetes, and an increasing number of people are getting it in their teens.
Gastric Bypass Surgery and Diabetes Remission
People who have had gastric bypass surgery reverse diabetes even before weight loss occurs. Patients often never need insulin again.
I am one of these people. Before my gastric bypass surgery in 2003, I was on insulin and two oral medications for type 2 diabetes. My blood sugar was never adequately controlled.
After my weight-loss surgery, my primary care physician took me off all medications. My A1c readings ever since then have been normal.
It is believed that weight-loss surgery reverses diabetes because the intestines increase production of the hormone incretin. After gastric bypass, the small intestine spontaneously begins to produce a molecule called GLUT-1 that helps the body use glucose. This happens most likely because the intestine has to work harder to do its job, for example to absorb the nutrients or move the food further down. Also, it may be that the mechanical stress of ‘dumping’ the food directly to the intestine, since the stomach is bypassed, contributes to these changes.
The International Diabetes Federation advocates for gastric bypass surgery as an affective option for obese people who have diabetes. However, Ann Albright from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that surgery not be the first option.
Living larger than ever,
My Bariatric Life