Type-2 Diabetes and Weight

The incidence of Type-2diabetes is truly alarming. It is estimated that 2.5 million Canadians are diabetic and another 5 million over the age of 20 are prediabetic. In the U.S. 11.3% of adults are diabetic. Diabetes occurs when the body is unable to produce or sufficiently use insulin to convert sugar into energy that can be used by the body. Type-2 diabetes is caused by life-style factors including diet (consuming high fats, simple carbohydrates, proteins, low intake of fruits and vegetables), being sedentary, smoking, or excessive alcohol use. Proper weight management and physical activity are essential to preventing the onset of Type 2 diabetes. But, as is often the case these critical life-style factors require commitment and motivation. A study conducted by researchers* at the University of South Carolina examined the relationships between weight satisfaction and a person’s motivation to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Weight satisfaction occurs when there is a close correspondence between a person’s actual weight and their self-reported target weight. It has been found to be associated with engaging in more physical activity, consuming more fruits and vegetables, and achieving better cardiorespiratory fitness. The researchers noted that women tend to be more dissatisfied with their weight then men, as do European Americans compared to African Americans, regardless of body mass index (BMI). The researchers followed a sample of nearly 10,000 Americans over the age of 20 for up to 5 years. They found that weight dissatisfaction was associated with increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, particularly if an individual was chronically dissatisfied with his/her weight. Not surprisingly, weight dissatisfaction was also associated with fewer positive health behaviors and elevated levels of blood glucose and cholesterol. The researchers argued that being dissatisfied with one’s weight may actually perpetuate poor dietary and lifestyle behaviors rather than increasing motivation to make positive changes, which in turn increases the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. The converse was found to be true; adults who were satisfied with their weight tended to be more physically active and had a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes regardless of changes in health behavior or BMI. Similarly, individuals whose satisfaction with body weight shifted from being unsatisfied to satisfied became more physically active during the study period and lowered their risk for diabetes.

How is this Helpful to You: One important lesson from this research is that when one decides to embark on a weight reduction program it is important to set modest and realistic targets that are achievable within a reasonable time frame. One can easily become dissatisfied when targets are too ambitious; leading to a mentality of “oh what’s the point anyway.” The popularity of TV programs like “The Biggest Loser” are in fact counterproductive in promoting a sensible approach to developing a more healthy lifestyle or serving as a source of motivation.

*Wirth, M.D., Blake, C.E., Hebert, J.R., Sui, X, and Blair, S.N. (2014). Chronic weight dissatisfaction predicts Type 2 diabetes risk: Aerobic Centre longitudinal study. Health Psychology, 33(8), 912-919.
To assess your risk for Type 2 diabetes see the self-assessment questionnaire at: http://healthycanadians.gc.ca/health-sante/disease-maladie/diabetes-diabete/canrisk/index-eng.php

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