There is hardly a disease as threatening as diabetes. On the surface it might seem that diabetes only affects your diet—keeping you away from your favourite sweet treats—but the truth is that this one ailment can impact your heart, vision, immune system, and a lot more.
While it is common knowledge that the solution for diabetes goes way beyond just blood-sugar controlling medications and that an active lifestyle is required to beat this disease—here’s something you might not know. You can reverse diabetes by losing weight.
You see, research has found that you prevent and even reverse diabetes by shedding excess weight. Presented at the ESC (European Society of Cardiology) Congress 2020, the research was conducted in the UK with an aim to understand the link between BMI and diabetes risk.
“Because we are born with our genes, it might be possible to pinpoint early in life who has a high chance of developing diabetes during their lifetime,” said principal investigator Professor Brian Ference of the University of Cambridge, UK, and the University of Milan, Italy.
“We conducted this study to find out if combining inherited risk with current body mass index (BMI) could identify people at the highest risk of developing diabetes. Prevention efforts could then concentrate on these individuals,” he further said.
This is how the study was conducted?
The study included 445,765 participants of the UK Biobank (a long-term study being conducted in the UK to understand the contribution of genetics and environmental factors to development of disease).
The average age was 57.2 years and 54% were women. Inherited risk of diabetes was assessed using 6.9 million genes. Height and weight were measured at enrolment to calculate BMI in kg/m2. Participants were divided into five groups according to BMI.
The researchers followed the participants up until an average age of 65.2 years, and during this time over 30,000 people developed type 2 diabetes.
Those in the highest BMI group (average 34.5 kg/m2) had an 11-fold increased risk of diabetes compared to participants in the lowest BMI group (average 21.7 kg/m2)—regardless of their genetic risk.
“The findings indicate that BMI is a much more powerful risk factor for diabetes that genetic predisposition,” said Professor Ference. The investigators also tried to estimate whether the likelihood of diabetes in people with a high BMI would be even greater if they were overweight for a long period of time. However, they discovered that the duration of elevated BMI did not have an impact on the risk of diabetes.
Professor Ference said: “This suggests that when people cross a certain BMI threshold, their chances of diabetes go up and stay at that same high-risk level regardless of how long they are overweight.”
“The findings indicate that most cases of diabetes could be avoided by keeping BMI below the cut-off which triggers abnormal blood sugar. This means that to prevent diabetes, both BMI and blood sugar should be assessed regularly. Efforts to lose weight are critical when a person starts to develop blood sugar problems,” he added.
“It may also be possible to reverse diabetes by losing weight in the early stages before permanent damage occurs,” said Professor Ference.
(With inputs from ANI)