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Diabetes and Weight Loss

Diabetes and weight loss

According to Diabetes Australia, more than 1 million Australian's already have diabetes and more than half of those people don't know it! By 2015, this number may reach 1.7 million.

Diabetes already costs the Australian health system over $1 billion a year and as this disease increases, so too does its cost in lives and stress on our economy.

This article puts the spotlight on diabetes and explains what it is, what causes it, what affects it can have on our health and what techniques are used to treat and prevent it.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic disease characterised by high blood glucose levels.

These high blood glucose levels are the result of the sufferer's body not producing sufficient insulin or not using the insulin it does produce properly.

Insulin is a hormone needed by our body to covert the glucose contained in the food we eat into energy.

Because it is unable to convert the glucose into energy, a disproportionately high amount of glucose remains in our bloodstream, which causes our arteries, veins and capillaries to become "sticky" and clogged, inhibiting the flow of blood and the oxygen and nutrients it carries to all parts of our body.

There are two main types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 diabetes (insulin dependent)
  • Type 2 diabetes (non-insulin dependent)

Type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes represents approximately 10 to 15% of all cases of diabetes in Australia.

Type 1 diabetes is one of the most common chronic childhood diseases in Australia and typically affects children and young adults, but can occur at any age.

This type of diabetes occurs when the pancreas gland no longer produces the insulin our bodies need to function and requires insulin to be injected into the body to compensate.

Type 1 diabetes typically seems to come out of nowhere and hits sufferers abruptly.

Symptoms of Type 1 diabetes can include excessive thirst and urination, unexplained weight loss, weakness, fatigue and irritability.

Although not directly lifestyle related, treating Type 1 diabetes does require a healthy eating plan and regular physical activity in addition to the lifelong daily insulin injections and regular blood glucose level tests.

Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is by far the most common form of diabetes and because it is directly related to our lifestyle is the one that should be of most interest to the vast majority of us (particularly those of us who are overweight).

Type 2 diabetes represents approximately 85 to 90% of all cases of diabetes.

Again, this form of diabetes involves our pancreas, and occurs when the pancreas is not producing enough insulin and the insulin is not working effectively.

Unlike Type 1 diabetes, the development of Type 2 diabetes is directly affected by lifestyle factors as well as a genetic predisposition to the disease.

Of all the risk factors associated with the onset of Type 2 diabetes, being overweight or obese is believed to be among the most significant.

While Type 1 diabetes usually affects children and teenagers, Type 2 diabetes typically affects adults over the age of 45, but seems to be increasingly affecting people younger than that.

The most alarming thing about Type 2 diabetes is that it develops gradually and its symptoms sometimes go completely unnoticed.

These symptoms may be the same as those of Type 1 diabetes plus blurred vision, skin infections, slow healing, tingling and numbness in the feet.

The good news about Type 2 diabetes is that it can often be managed or avoided altogether by adopting new lifestyle habits, usually revolving around healthier eating and becoming more active.

In some cases, treatment of Type 2 diabetes may involve insulin injections or both lifestyle modification and insulin injections.

Health problems associated with diabetes

The most common and concerning health problems associated with diabetes include:

  • heart disease and stroke
  • eye disease and blindness
  • kidney disease
  • nerve disease and vascular damage of the lower limbs
  • Erectile dysfunction in males

As you can see, at its worst diabetes can significantly contribute to our premature death. At its best, it can contribute to kidney failure, make us go blind, lose a limb or prevent us from having children naturally and enjoying a healthy sex life.

People at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes

According to research, people at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes are:

  • over 45 years of age and have high blood pressure
  • over 45 years of age and overweight
  • over 45 years of age and one of more members of the family has/had diabetes
  • over 55 years of age
  • have heart disease or have had a heart attack
  • have/had high blood sugar levels during pregnancy (gestational diabetes)
  • have recorded a borderline blood glucose level
  • have polycystic ovary syndrome and overweight
  • over 35 years of age and are an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander
  • over 35 years of age and from Pacific Islands , Indian subcontinent or Chinese cultural background

Preventing Type 2 diabetes

We've already seen that healthy lifestyle changes are used to treat Type 2 diabetes.

Unsurprisingly, it is these healthy lifestyle habits/changes that can also help prevent Type 2 diabetes in a lot of cases.

Supporting this are the facts that people with diabetes are:

  • almost three times more likely to have high blood pressure
  • almost three times more likely to be obese
  • almost three times more likely to have elevated blood fats (e.g. cholesterol)
  • two to three times more likely to have cardio-vascular disease

It should be pretty clear for most of us with weight loss goals that many of the habits that will help us lose weight will help us prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes.

There is currently no cure for either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. Researchers are confident that a cure for Type 1 diabetes will soon be discovered, but believe that finding a cure for Type 2 diabetes is likely to take much longer.

In the meantime, we can all try to exercise a little more and eat a little less of the foods in our diets that we know aren't contributing to our health and a little more of those foods that we know are.


According to Diabetes Australia, more than 1 million Australian's already have diabetes and more than half of those people don't know it!

Diabetes is on the increase in most of the western world and is already one of the most prominent and devastating diseases in Australia.

This article put the spotlight on diabetes and explained what it is, what causes it, what affects it can have on our health and what techniques are being used to treat and prevent it.

If you think that you might be at increased risk of developing diabetes, visit your local doctor. For more information on diabetes, visit the Diabetes Australia website or phone 1300 136 588.

Another great resource for learning about diabetes can be found at medicalassistantschools.org (thanks Sarah).

We hope you've found this article interesting and educational, and thank you for visiting weightloss.com.au.

Copyright Ultimate Weightloss.

This article was written by Scott Haywood.

Scott is the editor of weightloss.com.au. Scott has developed an expertise in fitness and nutrition, and their roles in weight loss, which led him to launch weightloss.com.au in 2005. Today, weightloss.com.au provides weight loss and fitness information, including hundreds of healthy recipes, weight loss tools and tips, articles, and more, to millions of people around the world, helping them to lead happier, healthier, lives.

You can follow Scott on Google+ for more interesting articles.

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