The Link Between Obesity and Diabetes

Two of the most prevalent chronic diseases in the United States, obesity and diabetes, affect more than 100 million Americans combined. Researchers have discovered that the two conditions are interrelated, and reducing your risk of one can reduce your risk of the other. 

Dr. Shawn Veiseh of University Executive Physical Program explains the link between obesity and diabetes, and how to reduce your risk of both.

What is obesity?

Obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater. Morbid obesity is having a BMI of 40 or greater. BMI measures body fat using your weight and height.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a widespread disease that involves chronically elevated blood sugar levels. There are two main types of diabetes: 

A third type of diabetes, called gestational diabetes, affects pregnant women and usually disappears after childbirth. 

How obesity and diabetes are related

When it comes to the link between diabetes and obesity, it’s Type 2 diabetes you should be concerned about. Most people who have Type 1 diabetes develop it early in life, and gestational diabetes only applies to pregnant women. 

The common denominator between obesity and diabetes is body weight. Being overweight often leads to insulin resistance, the precursor to diabetes. 

Not everyone who has diabetes is overweight, but being overweight or obese definitely drives up your risk of diabetes. In fact, nearly 90 percent of people with diabetes are overweight, and there’s even a term to refer to obesity-dependent diabetes: diabesity.

Common causes of obesity and diabetes

Not only does being obese increase your risk for diabetes, but both diseases share many of the same causes. Causes of both obesity and diabetes include: 

How to prevent obesity and Type 2 diabetes

Take action against obesity and diabetes by taking control of your lifestyle. A healthy diet and regular physical activity are the best defenses against these two diseases. 


You don’t need to undertake a flashy fad diet, “cleanse,” or “detox” to reduce your risk of obesity and diabetes. But you do need to eat a healthy diet that includes fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats from nuts, seeds, fish, and oils. 


Again, you don’t need to do anything extreme to lower your risk of these two chronic conditions. You don’t need to run 5 miles a day or lift weights for two hours or endure grueling circuit training. But you do need to get some exercise, even if that just means walking for 30 minutes each day. The US physical activity guidelines recommend that all adults engage in at least 150 minutes (2½ hours) of moderate activity each week. 

To learn more about the link between obesity and diabetes, call Dr. Veiseh at University Executive Physical Program or request an appointment using our online scheduling tool.

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