Four hundred million people worldwide are affected by type 2 diabetes, a chronic, progressive disease. Overweight adults are more likely to be diagnosed with the condition because excess body fat can cause insulin resistance. Their pancreas still produces insulin, but their bodies cannot use it properly or move glucose into the cells. As the amount of glucose in the blood rises, the pancreas works even harder to make more insulin. However, the pancreas eventually wears out to overcome the problem, and its ability to produce insulin is affected.
Eighty to ninety percent of patients with type 2 diabetes are overweight. In the U.S., obese men have a seven times higher risk of developing the condition than their healthy weight counterparts, while obese women have a twelve times higher risk. There is no known cure for type 2 diabetes, but the disease can be controlled, and in some cases, patients can even experience remission.
A National Institute of Health study found that weight loss delays the onset in prediabetic patients and decreases the risk of type 2 diabetes. Several clinical trials have established the potential to prevent type 2 diabetes in high-risk individuals by lifestyle intervention. The key seems to be a comprehensive approach that simultaneously helps correct several risk factors. There should be a strong focus on increased physical activity and dietary changes. Even lifestyle interventions lasting only a short time seem to have a long-lasting effect on risk factors and the occurrence of diabetes.
A Finnish Diabetes Prevention study identifies five predefined lifestyle targets that high-risk individuals with impaired glucose tolerance should aim for when preventing diabetes:
- weight loss greater than five percent
- intake of fat less than thirty percent
- intake of saturated fats less than ten percent
- increase of dietary fiber greater than fifteen grams per thousand calories
- increase of physical exercise to at least four hours a week
These targets are relatively easy to attain, and most people reach them with no problem. These same targets also apply to those diagnosed with diabetes and are feasible lifestyle changes for the long term.
Type 2 diabetes no longer has to be seen as a lifelong disease. A type 2 diagnosis changes your life and may seem overwhelming to handle. However, changes in your lifestyle, including a diet and exercise plan, can be implemented slowly and with the support of your diabetes healthcare team.
After consulting with your doctor, you will better understand where to begin when it comes to starting a new weight loss routine. It will take time to figure out what works for you and what you need. You may need to adjust your plan many times before you find the perfect plan tailored to your physical and emotional needs. The first step is finding the motivation to begin, especially if you are not used to exercising or dieting.
One factor that often motivates diabetic patients to get serious about their health is the fear of all the adverse effects and complications. Type 2 diabetes patients need to be aware of why it is imperative to make these lifestyle changes. Type 2 diabetics have a greater risk of death from heart disease and certain types of cancers. Weight loss helps protect diabetes patients from common complications like eye diseases (retinopathy), neuropathy (nerve damage), liver damage, kidney failure, high blood pressure, and stroke.
Doctors need to emphasize the importance of managing blood glucose levels to minimize the complications of type 2 diabetes, whether a patient is on medication or not. Glycemic control is essential in reducing the risk of complications of the condition. Most type 2 diabetes patients are advised to keep their A1c level below seven percent.
Weight Loss Benefits for Diabetics
Weight loss makes it a lot easier for people with diabetes to control their blood sugar levels, improving glycemic control.
Exercise reduces glucose in your blood. Muscles use glucose without insulin when a person is exercising. In simple terms, it does not matter if you are insulin resistant or if you do not have enough. When you exercise, your muscles get the glucose you need, and as a result, your blood glucose level goes down.
Other health advantages to weight loss include a boost in energy levels, lower cholesterol levels, reduced need for insulin and other diabetes treatments, improved hemoglobin A1c levels, better sleep, and reduced sleep apnea.
Weight Loss – Where to Begin?
Weight loss does not happen instantly for anyone. It is a process that requires time, patience, and determination. A diet and physical activity regimen are commitments that need to be adhered to. Unfortunately, some diabetes medications can cause weight gain themselves. Many patients lose weight unexpectedly if their blood sugar is very high for extended periods. In addition, when a new diabetes medication is started, the patient may notice they put the weight back on.
To begin, you first need to assess where you currently stand when it comes to nutrition and physical activity. Consider what your eating habits and physical activity are like. Asking yourself questions can help you figure out which of your habits are helpful and which might need to be changed. For instance, do you engage in at least thirty minutes of physical activity each day? Do you prepare your meals ahead of time or decide impulsively what to eat? What makes it easier for you to eat and live healthier? And what makes it more challenging?
Your diet plan should be based on healthy eating and should be something you can realistically keep doing. Patients often need to try different things to create a plan that works well for them. Some may cut sugar and eat more protein to stay full longer. Others might focus on replacing unhealthy foods with fruits and vegetables.
There are also many registered dietitians and nutritionists who can be a part of your diabetes care team. They will be your most qualified resource in determining a plan for losing weight while maintaining a healthy diet. A weight management plan needs to include routine exercise, as an active lifestyle decreases the risk of illness and promotes an overall sense of well-being.
Maintaining Your Health for Life
Weight loss is a temporary process. The real work comes after when you need to keep off the weight you have lost. To achieve this, you must embrace a new way of eating with a method that is agreeable to you and meets the nutritional standards your body needs. This is a life-long commitment, and you can maintain your health by keeping your diet and exercise routine a priority.
Importance of Weight Loss in Children with Type 2 Diabetes
Kids and teens diagnosed with type 2 diabetes have a similar experience to adults. Most children who are diagnosed with the condition are overweight.
Emotional support from parents is essential for helping children getting to a healthy weight. Overweight children can have low self-esteem and even feel guilty. Focusing on the positive and talking about how to be healthy will help. It is important to help your child understand that all people, diabetic and non-diabetic, thin or obese, need to manage their health and lifestyle choices. Kids are likely to pick up on parental attitudes and actions about eating habits. By buying healthy foods and cooking nutritious, you can teach your child how to achieve healthy goals from an early age.
Children with type 2 diabetes can experience certain problems when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight that adults typically do not. For example:
- Sneaking snacks – Children may sneak sugary snacks they are only supposed to have in moderation. This can raise the child’s blood sugar level without the parent knowing why, and the parent will typically give higher doses of insulin as a response. This cycle can lead to weight gain. Thus, make sure your child understands why they must stick to their meal plan.
- Extreme dieting – Older children, especially teens, may try to lose weight through fad diets or other unhealthy measures. These measures are not suitable in general, but even worse for diabetes patients because of how badly they affect blood sugar levels.
- Skipping insulin – Teens have sometimes skipped insulin injections to lose weight. This is a dangerous tactic, as it can lead to extremely high blood sugar and even diabetic ketoacidosis.
- Over snacking – Some kids eat too many snacks because they or their parents are concerned about hypoglycemia. Keep track of the snacks you have at home and how quickly they are eaten.
The benefits of exercise not only help adults with diabetes, but children too. Parents may worry that too much exercise will affect their child’s blood sugar levels, but there is no need to limit physical activity. Your child’s diabetes healthcare team can help ease your worry and form a plan to avoid low blood sugar. Kids who reach and maintain a healthy weight feel better and find their diabetes management is easier. It helps give the kids a sense of control over their diabetes, bodies, and health.
Therefore, with a combination of lifestyle changes like weight loss, exercise, and diet modifications, up to ninety percent of type 2 diabetics, both children and adults, can reach remission.
Can Weight Loss Pens Help Combat Obesity?
Several drugs have emerged in the pharmaceutical market that have helped many lose weight. These drugs often work by suppressing appetite or are lipid-lowering enzyme inhibitors.
It should be noted that these drugs may have side effects, including increased blood pressure, difficulty breathing, insomnia, hallucinations, anxiety, addiction, and elevated heart rate. As such, it is important to check with your doctor before taking any weight loss medication.
These drugs are typically not suitable for patients with a history of cancer, or who are under the age of eighteen, pregnant or breastfeeding, suffer from pancreatitis, have a kidney or pancreas disorder, or undergoing certain diabetes treatments.
These drugs are often prescribed to type 2 diabetes patients who are struggling with their weight.
Common drugs often prescribed for weight loss include:
- Ozempic (Semaglutide)
- Saxenda (Liraglutide)
- Victoza (Liraglutide)
- Rybelsus (Semaglutide)
- Wegovy (Semaglutide)
These common weight loss medications often come in the form of injectable pens to be taken subcutaneously in the abdomen, upper arm, or thigh.
Weight loss pens are one of many methods that can help those with diabetes lose weight. It is important to always accompany the treatment of weight loss pens with a healthy diet, exercise, sleep, and avoiding stress which typically go along with a balanced weight loss regimen.