Obesity and Type 2 diabetes

What is Type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic illness that causes blood sugar levels to be higher than normal.

After most people eat, their bodies break down food into glucose and other nutrients. Eating triggers the pancreas to create a hormone called insulin, which helps release glucose into the bloodstream.

In type 2 diabetes, the body becomes resistant to insulin. This means it becomes less effective in managing the blood glucose levels.

The pancreas tries to help by producing more and more insulin. However, over time, the pancreas wears out.

It’s estimated that by the time a person is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, they’ve lost 50 – 70% of the insulin-producing cells in their pancreas1.

What is the link between obesity and type 2 diabetes?

There is a strong link between obesity and type 2 diabetes, as obesity is a leading risk factor for diabetes2.

For example, if you’re a woman with a BMI of over 30 kg/m2, you have a 28 times greater risk of developing diabetes than a woman with a healthy BMI2.

Over half (53%) of diabetes in Australia is because of excess weight3.

What are the risk factors of type 2 diabetes?

You have a higher risk of developing diabetes if it runs in your family. It’s also more common in people from Pacific Island, Indian subcontinent, Chinese cultural, Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander backgrounds1.

You may be at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes if you have high blood pressure, have a poor diet, don’t get enough exercise and are overweight1.

What are the complications of type 2 diabetes?

Diabetes can affect many parts of your body. People with diabetes are more likely to experience heart, kidney and vision problems. Amputations are also much more common with people with diabetes4.

Many people with diabetes also suffer from mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression4.

How is type 2 diabetes managed?

Unfortunately, type 2 diabetes can’t be cured, but you can manage it with healthy eating, exercise and medications.

Sometimes you can go into remission. According to Diabetes Australia, people have gone into remission after intensive dietary change or bariatric surgery. They say remission is more likely within the first few years of diagnosis with type 2 diabetes5.

Weight loss studies have shown a significant proportion of people were still in diabetes remission even 7 to 10 years after their surgery 6 7 8.

Sleep apnoea, snoring and Obesity
1 Diabetes Australia. About Type 2 Diabetes. 2021 https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/about-diabetes/type-2-diabetes/ Accessed November 2021.

2 Barnes AS. The epidemic of obesity and diabetes: trends and treatments. Tex Heart Inst J. 2011;38(2):142-144. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3066828/

3 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2017. Impact of overweight and obesity as a risk factor for chronic conditions: Australian Burden of Disease Study. Available at https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/burden-of-disease/impact-of-overweight-and-obesity-as-a-risk-factor-for-chronic-conditions/contents/table-of-contents, Accessed September 2019.

4 Diabetes Australia. Preventing Complications https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/living-with-diabetes/preventing-complications/ Accessed November 2021.

5 Colagiuri S, Shaw J, Deed G et al Diabetes Australia Position Statement: Type 2 diabetes remission. October 2021 https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2021_Diabetes-Australia-Position-Statement_Type-2-diabetes-remission_2.pdf. Accessed November 2021.

6 Sjöström L, Peltonen M, Jacobson P, et al. Association of Bariatric Surgery With Long-term Remission of Type 2 Diabetes and with Microvascular and Macrovascular Complications. JAMA, 2014; 311(22): 2297. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/1878719

7 Purnell J, Dewey E, Laferrère B, et al. Diabetes Remission Status During Seven-year Follow-up of the Longitudinal Assessment of Bariatric Surgery Study. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 2021; 106(3):774-788. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7947785/

8 Jans A, Näslund, I, Ottosson, J, Duration of type 2 diabetes and remission rates after bariatric surgery in Sweden 2007–2015: A registry-based cohort study. PLOS Medicine, 2019; 16(11): .e1002985. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6867594/#.