Diabetes Risk: New Research on Obesity


GAINESVILLE, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Obesity and diabetes can sometimes go hand and hand. The higher amount of fat a person has, the higher the chance they can develop diabetes. But new research shows the measurement that doctors are using to calculate their risk may not be so accurate.

Doctors say it’s an epidemic. More than 84 million people in the U.S. have prediabetes, but many do not know it.

Arch Mainous, PhD, a professor of health services research at the University of Florida, told Ivanhoe, “There are a lot of people being missed. Six, seven, eight million people are probably being missed.”

That’s because body mass index, or BMI, the measurement doctors use to determine if someone is overweight or obese, is missing people who are of normal weight but are prediabetic.

“A lot of people who are healthy weight may not be so healthy,” continued Mainous.

Researchers studied data on adults 20 and over with a healthy BMI between 18.5 and 24.9. He found that one in five adults between the ages of 20 and 44 who had a healthy weight met the blood glucose criteria for prediabetes. For people 45 or older, it was one in three.

Mainous explained, “As people get older, they tend to lose lean muscle mass, and they are at the exact same BMI. They get really skinny arms and really skinny legs and get more weight.”

And that weight is around their waist.

“It moves them so that they really are no different than people who are overweight,” detailed Mainous.

“Once you hit the age of 45, you should be always talking to your doctor about getting screened,” said Ryan Sanders, a registered dietitian and nutritionist at UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Florida.

Especially if you have a family history of diabetes, your waistline is at least 40 inches for men, and at least 35 inches for women. Also if you are a high-risk ethnicity, such as African-American, Hispanic, Asian or Native American.

Mainous exclaimed, “If we don’t find people who are at the high risk of developing prediabetes and do something about them, then we are just waiting for a lot of people to develop diabetes.”

Fifteen to 30 percent of people with prediabetes will eventually develop diabetes within five years. Those diagnosed with diabetes will spend 2.3 times more on health care than if they didn’t have the disease. The CDC has a free test for anyone who wants to know their risk of prediabetes.

Contributors to this news report include: Milvionne Chery, Field Producer; Roque Correa, Editor and Videographer. 

Free weekly e-mail on Medical Breakthroughs from Ivanhoe. To sign up: http://www.ivanhoe.com/ftk

REPORT #2577

PREDIABETES: A person is diagnosed prediabetic when their blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be type 2 diabetes. More than 85 million adults have prediabetes. People with prediabetes are at high risk for eventually developing type 2 diabetes and even heart disease, possibly leading to stroke. As the US population becomes increasingly overweight, more than 30 million Americans now have diabetes. This increases their risk for a very long list of other serious health problems, including but not limited to blindness or kidney failure. The good news is progression from prediabetes to type 2 isn’t inevitable. Patients can take steps to get their blood sugar levels back down to normal. Prediabetes can affect adults and children, and generally has no signs or symptoms. However, signs and symptoms that suggest you are moving from prediabetes to type 2 include frequent urination, fatigue, increased thirst, and blurred vision.

(Sources: https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/prevention/prediabetes-type2/index.html, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/prediabetes/symptoms-causes/syc-20355278)

BODY MASS INDEX (BMI): BMI does not measure body fat directly, however, it is a measure of body fat based on a person’s weight in relation to their height. It is used to track weight status in populations, and also as a screening tool to identify possible weight related problems in certain individuals. If a person’s BMI is outside of the healthy BMI range, their health risks may increase significantly. These values are age-dependent, and may not correspond to the same degree of fatness in different populations due to different body proportions. You can use a calculator or a chart, which you can ask your doctor for or search online, to calculate where you stand.

(Source: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/info/obesity/what-is-bmi.php)

PREVENTION: If left uncontrolled, diabetes is a chronic disease that could cause blindness, heart disease, and kidney failure. Certain risk factors cannot be controlled, for instance a persons genetic background or familial history, but many actions can be taken to reduce a persons risk. One action is cutting refined carbs and sugar from your diet, as this helps you avoid spiking your insulin levels over time. Physical activity has also been shown to reduce insulin resistance and lower blood sugar. Once you do become active, losing weight also will lower your risk. Excess fat in the midsection promotes inflammation and insulin resistance around organs such as the liver, putting a person at risk for diabetes. Drinking more water, quitting smoking, controlling portion sizes, and eating a high-fiber diet are all recommended steps to take as well.

(Source: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/prevent-diabetes#section9)

 TREATMENT: The main goal of treatment when it comes to diabetes is controlling patients’ blood sugar or blood glucose levels. As well as dietary changes, exercise, weight reduction, and non-insulin medications, it may be managed with insulin. Medications may be given for things like increasing insulin sensitivity, decrease the absorption of carbohydrates from the digestive track, or to increase glucose excretion. Methods for delivering insulin will include; pre-filled pens, syringes, or pumps. Rapid-action insulin delivery will take effect 5 minutes after administration, and can last for between 2 to 4 hours. Regular insulin can take effect within 30 minutes and peaking around 2 to 3 hours after injection and will last from 3 to 6 hours total. There are also intermediate and long-acting insulin options. With insulin preparation and administration options ever-growing, recommended dosage and delivery methods will vary from patient to patient.

(Source: https://www.medicinenet.com/diabetes_treatment/article.htm#different_methods_of_delivering_insulin)

 * For More Information, Contact:

Arch Mainous, PhD                                                                Rossana Passaniti, Media Relations

Prof., and Chairman-Health Services Research,                  (352) 273-8569

Management and Policy                                                     PASSAR@shands.ufl.edu

University of Florida