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What is Type 2 Diabetes?

Type two diabetes is the most common form and is growing dramatically. Why does it happen? What are the signs, symptoms, and risk factors?

By
Rob Lamberts, MD,
October 21, 2009
Episode #019

Page 1 of 3

Today I get back to diabetes. My previous article on diabetes gave the foundation for this article's information, so if you haven’t listened to that one, you probably should. I won’t be mad at you if you don’t, but you may get confused. It’s no fun being confused.

What is Type 2 Diabetes?

Today I am going to discuss the more common form of diabetes known as Type 2 diabetes mellitus. About 90-95 percent of diabetics are type two, and this number is growing (in more ways than one). The absolute number of diabetics has been rising dramatically over recent years. The reason for this rise is that Americans have been growing dramatically over those same years. Diabetes is much more likely as a person’s pant size goes up, and we Americans have pursued maximum pantage with an unmatched vigor.

Type 2 Diabetes and Insulin

Why is obesity linked to diabetes? Let me first give a brief recap of the biology of Type 2 diabetes. The root problem in this disease is the malfunction of insulin receptors, which are the proteins on the outside of cells in our bodies that bring glucose into the cells for fuel. When insulin receptors malfunction it is known as insulin resistance, and there are two main bad things that happen as a result of this phenomenon:

  1. The level of insulin in the blood goes up to compensate for this defect.

  2. The level of glucose in the blood rises. Initially this rise only happens after a person eats high-carbohydrate food, but eventually it stays up all of the time.

Both high insulin and glucose levels are the source of the bad complications seen in Type 2 diabetes.

What is the Link Between Obesity and Diabetes?

Obesity makes a person even more insulin resistant than normal, and so someone who already has a predisposition for developing diabetes will have a much more likely chance of developing it if they gain weight; especially if they gain it around their waistline (for tips on losing weight please refer to Nutrition Diva and Get-Fit Guy). Scientists have termed a person who tends to carry more weight around the abdomen as being apples, and have termed people who carry more fat on the hips and buttocks as being pears. I guess this is a politically correct way to put it.

The upshot of the apple vs. pear physique is this:

  •  It’s much better to have a big butt than a big belly.

  • Losing abdominal fat can reduce insulin resistance and prevent diabetes.

  • Hungry scientists come up with strange names for things.

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