October 22, 2014
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Diabetes

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The importance of weight management in diabetes

Adults who are overweight or obese are more likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes (diabetes that is most often diagnosed in adulthood). In fact, approximately 80% to 90% of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese. This is partly because excess body fat can cause insulin resistance, a situation where the body makes insulin but the tissues cannot use it properly to help take in blood sugar.

With this in mind, it shouldn't come as a surprise that weight loss makes it easier for a person with diabetes to control their blood sugars. The motivation for a person with type 2 diabetes to manage their weight becomes even greater with the knowledge that the risk of death from heart disease and some forms of cancer increases with excess body fat.

To find out if you are overweight or obese, you need to know your body mass index (BMI), a measurement that calculates your weight in proportion to your height. Your health care provider can help you determine your BMI, or you can find a BMI calculator on the internet.

In Canada, the BMI number refers to your weight in kilograms divided by the square of your height in metres (i.e., kg/m2). You are in the healthy weight range if your BMI is less than 25 kg/m2 and above 18.5 kg/m2. If your BMI is between 25 kg/m2 and 29.9 kg/m2, then you are overweight. If your BMI is above 30 kg/m2 then you are in the obese range.

A registered dietitian is the diabetes care team member best qualified to help you determine a plan for losing weight while maintaining a healthy and nutritious diet. A weight management plan should include elements of a healthy diet and increased physical activity. Achieving a healthy weight through an active lifestyle decreases the risk of illness as well as promotes a general feeling of well-being.

When it comes to losing weight, slow and steady wins the race! A diet and physical activity plan that you will stick with, and that promotes weight loss of at most 0.5 kg to 1 kg (1 to 2 pounds) per week, is ideal.

Some diabetes medications, including insulin, can cause weight gain. Many individuals lose weight unintentionally when their blood sugars are very high over an extended period of time. Some of this weight may be put back on as blood sugars become better controlled. If you are starting a new medication for the treatment of diabetes, be sure to speak with your physician or pharmacist about this.


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