What is Diabesity?
Being aware of the high incidence of diabetes and obesity in our country is cause for pause. So having found that there’s a name for this unholy match, naturally piqued my interest. The epidemic of diabetes and obesity occurring together is being called “diabesity”. Obesity is considered a risk factor for diabetes, as it makes cells less able to use insulin to bring sugar in from the bloodstream, (what’s known as insulin resistance, the first step toward diabetes). When you are already insulin resistant (that is, diabetic or pre-diabetic), then it can be even harder to lose weight.
Obesity, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and Type 2 diabetes, have reached epidemic proportions. There’s not a person reading this article who isn’t affected by these conditions, either directly or indirectly. Yet as common as these conditions are, few people understand how closely they’re related. Further, as I keep documenting at every possible opportunity, diabetes and obesity can have serious implications for foot health; individually and collectively.
Origin of Diabesity
Because of the similarities of the conditions (diabetes + obesity), Dr Francine Kaufman coined the term diabesity to describe them. Diabesity can be defined as a metabolic dysfunction that ranges from mild blood sugar imbalances, to full-fledged Type 2 diabetes. It is a constellation of signs that includes:
• abdominal obesity
• high blood pressure
• high blood sugar
• systemic inflammation
• a tendency to form blood clots.
The subjective symptoms
These include but aren’t limited to:
• sugar cravings, especially after meals
• fatigue after meals
• frequent urination
• increased thirst and appetite
• difficulty losing weight
• slowed stomach emptying
• sexual dysfunction
• visual problems
• numbness and tingling in the extremities.
The term diabesity is misleading in one respect: it suggests one must be obese to experience the metabolic problems described above. But that’s not true. Slim people can suffer from the entire spectrum of blood sugar imbalances, all the way up to full-fledged Type 2 diabetes. The term sometimes used for someone who is slim, yet has insulin resistance, dysglycaemia and dyslipidaemia is “metabolically obese”. Their metabolism behaves as if they’re obese, even when they’re not.
Impact of the condition
It’s almost impossible to overstate how serious and far-reaching the problem of diabesity is. It affects more than one billion people worldwide, and is the leading cause of modern, chronic disease. The “diabese” have increased risk of heart disease, stroke, dementia, cancer, kidney failure and blindness, to name only a few.
Diabetes and cardiovascular disease have now outpaced infectious disease as the primary cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. It is claimed that diabetes is now the third leading cause of death. But death certificates don’t list diabetes or hyperglycaemia as the underlying cause of heart attacks, strokes or fatal infections. Nor do they consider the role of obesity, insulin resistance and inflammation in these conditions. If they did, it’s quite possible that diabesity is not only the leading cause of disease, but also the leading cause of death.
Conventional and alternative myths about Diabesity
It is believed that:
• Obesity isn’t as simple as eating too much and not exercising enough.
• Diabetes isn’t always progressive, and can be reversed in many people.
• Diabetes isn’t caused by eating too many carbohydrates.
• A fasting blood sugar of 95 mg/dL and Hb1Ac of 5.5 per cent isn’t “normal”.
• Thin people can get Type 2 diabetes.
How to test
If you answer yes to any, you may be predisposed to, or have Diabesity.
• Do you have a family history of diabetes, heart disease, or obesity?
• Are you of non-white ancestry (African, Asian, Native American, Pacific Islander, Hispanic, Indian, Middle Eastern)?
• Are you overweight (BMI or body mass index over 25)?
• Do you have extra belly fat? (Is your waist circumference greater than 35 inches for women, or greater than 40 inches for men?)
• Do you have sugar and refined carbohydrate cravings?
• Do you have trouble losing weight on a low-fat diet?
• Has your doctor told you your blood sugar is a little high (greater than 100mg/dl) or have you actually been diagnosed with insulin resistance, pre-diabetes or diabetes?
• Do you have high levels of triglycerides (over 100 mg/dl), or low HDL (good) cholesterol (< 50 mg/dl)?
• Do you have heart disease?
• Do you have high blood pressure?
• Are you inactive (less than 30 minutes of exercise four times a week)?
• Have you had gestational diabetes or polycystic ovarian syndrome?
• Do you suffer from infertility, low sex drive or sexual dysfunction?
The way forward
It sounds grim, but there’s good news. The lifestyle choices we make each day can lower our risk for diabesity, aid weight loss, and help slow the progression of diabetes.
So, review your lifestyle, and be aware of your family health history. Please remember to visit your doctor to do routine health checks; it’s important for your wellbeing. Early detection can save your life!
Your feet mirror your general health . . . cherish them!
Leana Huntley is an English trained foot health practitioner attached to ALMAWI Limited The Holistic Clinic. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website: www.almawiclinic.com