The World Health Organization’s definition of obesity is having a body mass index (BMI) greater than or equal to 30. Additionally, a BMI greater than or equal to 25 is considered overweight. Since 1980, obesity rates in 70 countries have doubled, and the rate of childhood obesity has increased faster in many parts of the world. About 30% of the global population is currently obese, which is roughly 2 billion people.
Unfortunately, these overweight and obesity issues don’t stop there. Individuals who aren’t at healthy weights are at risk of a litany of dangerous health concerns — especially diabetes.
Diabetes is a group of metabolic disorders in where there are high blood sugar levels over a prolonged period of time. Symptoms of high blood sugar include frequent urination, increased hunger, and increased thirst. If left untreated, diabetes can lead to all kinds of long-term complications, including cardiovascular disease, foot ulcers, chronic kidney disease, stroke, eye damage, hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state, and even death.
Here are some important bits of information about diabetes that you might not have known:
Someone can have prediabetes and not even know it
Prediabetes means that your blood sugar level is higher than normal but not yet high enough to be actual diabetes, though it certainly means you’re at risk. Sadly, in America alone, there are 86 million people with blood sugar levels hovering just below the Type 2 diabetes threshold. Though prediabetes isn’t as concerning as actual diabetes, it isn’t harmless, either. Prediabetes can damage blood vessels and cause significant nerve problems.
Dieting is crucial to managing blood sugar levels
According to Medscape, people with Type 2 diabetes who follow plant-based or vegan diets could not only experience greater weight loss and improvements in glucose control, but also have improved quality of life. Anastasios Toumpanakis, a doctoral candidate in health psychology at the School of Health Sciences, University of London, examined 11 studies that looked at the impact of the vegan diet for Type 2 diabetes patients. Toumpanakis and his colleagues found that physical and emotional quality of life improved with a vegan diet, and depressive symptoms were lifted, as well. In addition, symptoms of neuropathy improved more than other dieting diabetic patients.
“Diabetes is a complex chronic condition that cannot simply be managed by a prescription-focused treatment,” Toumpanakis said. “We need to alter and enrich our approach as health professionals and offer more support, guidance and psycho-education in people with diabetes so they would be more able to take control of their condition in the long-term.
If the vegan diet isn’t something that sounds doable for you, fear not. You can actually enjoy delicious foods from all over the world while simultaneously fighting diabetes. The Mediterranean diet, for instance, involves cuisines from more than 20 nations and can actually help prevent Type 2 diabetes and improve glycemic control.
Sugary foods and drinks don’t directly cause diabetes
Eating multiple bowls of ice cream a day isn’t a great idea, but ultimately, that won’t cause diabetes. Conversely, diabetes is caused by genetics and unknown factors that trigger its onset. However, an access of calories from any food source — not just sugary products — can contribute to weight gain, subsequently increasing your risk for developing diabetes. But sugar isn’t the lone culprit.
In addition to diabetes, obese individuals are at a higher risk for other health complications like heart disease, depression, respiratory problems, major cancers, and much more. If you’re worried about your weight or BMI, talk to a medical professional and start working towards a healthier and happier lifestyle.