The Effects of Diabesity: How Did it Get so Out of Control?

Diabesity is the new term for diabetes that is associated with obesity. It is a metabolic disorder ranging from mild blood sugar imbalances to minor insulin resistance to prediabetes to full-blown type 2 diabetes. Diabesity has become a worldwide epidemic. In America alone, 1 of every 2 people now suffer the effects of diabesity. This means that you either suffer the effects of diabesity, or you know somebody who does.A cartoon image of toy false teeth, a donut, piece of cake, and a cupcake on blue background.

Saying that obesity is “associated” with diabetes is an understatement. Obesity is the major driving force of diabetes. The Centers for Disease Control states that around 90% of those who are obese will develop type 2 diabetes at some point in their lives. That’s because obesity promotes insulin resistance, increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes.

But ironically, a person need not be obese to suffer the effects of diabesity. Statistics show 80% of overweight people and 40% of normal-weight people are at risk for diabetes and other obesity-related health problems.

The effects of diabesity on normal-weight people

A person of normal weight who suffers the effects of diabesity is said to be “skinny fat,” meaning they have too much body fat and not enough muscle. (The medical term is “metabolically obese normal weight.”) They may appear thin, and their body mass index (BMI) may be in the healthy range, but they’re actually carrying too much body fat, usually in the stomach region.

Due to a poor-quality diet, inactivity, stress, and other factors, skinny-fat person suffers the effects of diabesity on their health just as they would if they were obese. Being skinny fat can be even more dangerous than being obese, however, because they are not aware they are at risk for obesity-related health problems. Their appearance masks the health problems brewing beneath the surface, the health effects of diabesity that hundreds of millions of people are experiencing right now.

Health complications of diabesity

The effects of diabesity on health cover both obesity-related and diabetes-related conditions, so the list is long. The health complications of diabesity can include:

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • High cholesterol/triglycerides
  • Kidney stones
  • Glaucoma
  • Cataracts
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Kidney disease
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Some cancers
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Neuropathy (nerve damage)
  • Retinopathy (an eye disease that can lead to blindness)
  • Amputations

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Diabesity risk factors

Since diabesity is a combination of obesity and type 2 diabetes, the risk factors for each are listed separately.

Risk factors for obesity

  • Genetics: Studies show there is a genetic component to obesity. For instance, your genes may influence the efficiency with which your body converts food into energy. Or it may affect where your body fat is distributed. However, experts agree genetics alone are not responsible for the obesity epidemic.
  • Inactivity: Having a sedentary lifestyle is a key contributor to obesity. This is because you’re not able to burn many calories if you’re not active. If you also eat a poor-quality diet, it is very easy to take in more calories than you burn, leading to weight gain and obesity. Inactivity can also lead to fat storage because you’re not able to burn off excess glucose levels.
  • Poor-quality diet: Regularly consuming ultra-processed foods, starchy carbs, and sugars dysregulate hormones, causing neurological inflammation and disturbing the balance of good and bad gut bacteria. This elevates setpoint weight, eventually leading to obesity.
  • Family lifestyle: Research shows obesity runs in families, and this is not just because of genetics. Rather, family members living in the same household generally eat the same types of foods/meals and share the same activities.
  • Some medications: Certain medications, such as antidepressants, can contribute to weight gain. One of the reasons is that antidepressants elevate setpoint weight. Other medications, such as those used to control seizures, can also cause weight gain.
  • Age: Hormonal changes as you age, combined with decreased muscle mass, can increase your risk of obesity. (Decreased muscle mass slows your metabolism.) Many people also tend to become less active as they age.
  • Quitting smoking: “Kicking the habit” has kicked many people into obesity. One of the reasons is that smoking increases the heartbeat, which in turn increases the metabolism. Quitting smoking then slows the metabolism, leading to weight gain. Even if you gain weight, though, quitting smoking is still better for your health than continuing the habit.
  • Sleep deprivation: Many studies show not getting enough sleep causes weight gain. Sleep deprivation affects your hormones, causing increased hunger and cravings for starchy carbs.

Risk factors for type 2 diabetes

  • Obesity: This is the number one risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Studies show having an excess amount of fatty tissue causes insulin resistance, a precursor to type 2 diabetes.
  • Abdominal Fat: Having an excess amount of abdominal fat significantly increases the risk for type 2 diabetes. That’s because a large amount of belly fat is an indication that you could be harboring visceral fat, a dangerous type of belly fat hidden deep within your abdominal cavity. Because visceral fat is metabolically active and is close to vital organs — such as kidneys, intestines, and liver — it influences the way hormones function in the body. Consequently, carrying excess visceral fat increases the risk for many diseases, including type 2 diabetes.
  • Inactivity: As with obesity, inactivity increases your risk of type 2 diabetes. Physical activity not only uses excess glucose, which helps regulate blood glucose levels, but it also increases insulin sensitivity.
  • Age: The risk of type 2 diabetes increases as you get older. However, an increasing number of children and adolescents are now being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, which is reflective of the rising rate of obesity in these age groups.
  • Family History: Like many diseases, the chance of type 2 diabetes increases if you have a close family member, such as a parent or sibling, with this disease.
  • Prediabetes: Having blood sugar levels that are higher than normal but not high enough to be considered diabetes is called prediabetes. If prediabetes is not properly treated, it often turns into diabetes within 5-10 years of diagnosis.

Effects of diabesity and diet

Of all the risk factors for obesity and type 2 diabetes, the biggest one is diet. Diabesity is, after all, a metabolic disorder affecting the proper functioning of insulin.

When you consume carbohydrates, your body breaks them down into glucose, which is absorbed into your bloodstream. Your blood glucose levels rise in response. Your cells need this glucose for energy, but they cannot receive it without insulin. Your pancreas automatically releases insulin, which travels to the cells and binds with the insulin receptors on the outside of the cells. This allows the cells to absorb the glucose. Your blood glucose levels fall as more of your cells absorb glucose.

If you routinely consume high amounts of starchy carbs and sugars, your pancreas constantly pumps insulin into your bloodstream. The insulin tries to take too much insulin into your cells too quickly, and they become overwhelmed.

Eventually, your cells become immune to the effects of insulin, a condition called insulin resistance, and they won’t accept much glucose. As a result, glucose builds up in your bloodstream. What begins as minor insulin resistance can progress from blood sugar imbalances all the way up to full-blown type 2 diabetes.

The effects of diabesity begin with diet. And there are a few areas of the diet that increase the chance of diabesity: over-consumption of ultra-processed foods and refined carbohydrates/sugars.

How ultra-processed foods spur the effects of diabesity

Ultra-processed foods are manufactured foods containing ingredients not used in standard culinary practices, such as preservatives, emulsifiers, and additives. Ultra-processed foods contain ingredients that make them look, smell, and taste like real foods, but they have none of the properties of real foods.

These food-like products have been stripped of their fiber and most of their nutrients, which is the biggest reason why they cause the effects of diabesity. Because they contain no fiber, glucose is absorbed into the bloodstream quickly, causing blood sugar spikes. Their lack of nutrients also means when you’re eating ultra-processed foods, you are getting “empty” calories or calories with no nutritive value.

How refined carbohydrates/sugars contribute to the effects of diabesity

Refined carbohydrates/sugars contribute to the effects of diabesity for the same reason ultra-processed foods do; namely, they contain “empty” calories, with no fiber to slow glucose absorption into the bloodstream. The result is a rapid rise in blood sugar levels.

Studies have also shown excess sugar consumption to increase the risk of both obesity and type 2 diabetes…so, of course, it also contributes to the effects of diabesity.

Effects of diabesity and the calorie-deficit theory of weight loss

If you’re wondering how diabesity got so out of control — how it became an epidemic — you need to look no further than the traditional dieting model.

After all, it’s not that people haven’t known that obesity increases the risk for type 2 diabetes and other diseases. And it isn’t that they haven’t tried to lose weight. Research shows an estimated 45 million Americans go on a diet every year. They spend over $30 billion a year on weight loss products. Why hasn’t it worked? Why An image of a graph on a computer screen.are millions of people still overweight or obese, and why are they suffering the effects of diabesity?

It is because the calorie-deficit theory that everyone has been following since the 1960s is wrong. This theory treats the metabolism like a scale — calories in equals calories out — when it is actually like a thermostat. Your body regulates your calorie intake and calorie output around your setpoint weight.

Your setpoint weight is the level of stored fat your body thinks you should have based on a sophisticated communication feedback loop between your brain, digestive system, and hormones. If you eat more, you will burn more. If you eat less, you will burn less. In a healthy system, you can never become too fat or too thin.

But if the system is broken through poor dietary habits and other lifestyle factors, the hormones cannot send or receive correct signals. The body cannot decide the level of fat you need, so it gives you more fat to be on the safe side. This elevates your setpoint weight, and your body tries to keep you within about 15 pounds of this weight.

Crash dieting doesn’t work because your body thinks you’re starving. It activates hormones to make you hungry, cold, weak, and irritable. It slows your metabolism. When you finally go off the diet, you gain back all the weight you lost, plus an extra 10 pounds as insurance against future starvation. And by the way…each crash diet elevates your setpoint weight a little more.

It’s not difficult to see how each failed diet could lead to more weight gain over time, making the effects of diabesity more likely.

You can’t win against a body that’s fighting against you. The only way you can win is to work with your body rather than against it.

How to reverse the effects of diabesity

The way to reverse the effects of diabesity is to eat more high-quality foods and fewer low-quality foods. That means eating more whole foods as close to their natural states as possible and reducing your consumption of ultra-processed foods, refined carbohydrates, and sugars as much as possible.

Fortunately, reducing or eliminating certain foods is not as difficult as you might think when you make SANE food choices. SANE foods have been scientifically proven to heal your hormones, keep you full longer, eliminate your sugar cravings, and lower your setpoint weight. Once your setpoint weight is lowered, your body will work as hard to keep you thin as it once worked to keep you heavy!

Next step: Reversing the effects of diabesity with SANE foods

Here are the 3 types of food you should eat at every main meal: non-starchy vegetables, nutrient-dense proteins, and whole-food fats. Fill half your plate with non-starchy veggies, a third of your plate with nutrient-dense proteins, and the remainder of your plate with whole-food fats. You may also have a serving of low-fructose fruit as an after-dinner dessert or a between-meal snack.

With SANE, there is no hunger and no deprivation. You’ll be so full of SANE foods you won’t have room for inSANE ones, and you won’t believe how easily — and permanently — you’ll lose those excess pounds. What a yummy, pleasurable way to reverse the effects of diabesity!

Download the free SANE metabolism boosting food list, cheat sheet, and “Eat More, Burn More” weight loss program by .