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Obesity: The Main Cause of Diabetes Mellitus in the United States… Or is it?

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Medically Reviewed By: Alia Hanif Khan
November 24, 2023No Comments

Updated on November 24, 2023

obesity is the main cause of diabetes mellitus in the united states

Obesity is the Main Cause of Diabetes Mellitus – Introduction

Obesity is a major risk factor leading to diabetes mellitus, as suggested by research. While obesity may play its part in the development of type 2 diabetes, there are many causes leading up to the development of this condition.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 42.5% of adults in the United States have obesity. Obesity is a major risk factor in the development of type 2 diabetes and prediabetes (around 1 in 3 Americans have it!). This renders the need for constant medical advancement in the arena of diabetes, which Revival Research Institute is doing day in and day out. If you or your loved ones would like to know more about it, please check out our vast range of internal medicine clinical trials.

This article will explore whether obesity is the main cause of diabetes mellitus or not. It will also discuss possible ways to mitigate them.

What is Diabesity?

Diabesity is the combined term often used to denote a person with diabetes mellitus and obesity. It is not a medical term, but since these two occur together a lot of times and require concurrent treatment strategies, they are called diabesity by some people.

Is diabetes a disability? Find out here.

Obesity is the Main Cause of Diabetes Mellitus

Since there is such a high prevalence of both of these occurring together, one can possibly say obesity is the main cause of diabetes mellitus. Type 2 diabetes typically emerges after prolonged insulin resistance, a condition where your body struggles to effectively process insulin, a hormone responsible for regulating blood sugar (blood glucose) levels. Prediabetes often occurs before this condition due to insulin resistance, and remarkably, over 80% of individuals with prediabetes are unaware of their condition.

Obesity is the main cause of diabetes mellitus linked to the onset of metabolic disorders like prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. This is because obesity damages your body’s sensitivity to insulin, making it more challenging for your body to naturally utilize insulin for blood sugar control.

It’s important to note that not all cases of obesity directly lead to type 2 diabetes, nor does having type 2 diabetes necessarily increase the likelihood of developing obesity. Nevertheless, obesity heightens the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Studies indicate that 80–90% of adults with type 2 diabetes also grapple with overweight or obesity.

Other Risk Factors

Obesity is the main cause of diabetes mellitus, but some alternate risk factors that may develop type 2 diabetes include:

having prediabetes

  • being aged 45 years or older
  • having a family history of type 2 diabetes
  • having gestational diabetes
  • being African American, Hispanic, Latino, American Indian, Pacific Islander, Asian American, or Alaska Native.

Type 2 diabetes also has some modifiable risk factors. These can include:

  • a lack of regular physical activity
  • high blood pressure
  • low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels
  • a high low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol level
  • smoking
  • not eating a healthy and varied diet
  • heavy alcohol consumption
  • high-stress levels
  • insufficient sleep

What are the 5 Causes of Obesity?

Since obesity is the main cause of diabetes mellitus (possibly), it is a good idea to learn about the possible causes of obesity so that we can avoid them. The 5 most common factors leading to obesity are:

Lack of Good Diet and Physical Exercise

Weight gain can occur if a person consumes more calories than they need. This can lead to excessive body weight gain as the extra nutrients accumulate in the form of fats in the body.

Our Environment and Social Norms

Our surroundings significantly impact our ability to maintain a healthy weight, and obesity is the main cause of diabetes mellitus. For instance:

  1.  The presence of local parks, walkable sidewalks, and affordable fitness centers can help people engage more in physical activity.
  2.  Larger food portions contribute to increased calorie intake. This necessitates even more physical activity to maintain a healthy weight.
  3.  Limited access to reasonably priced, healthy food options like fresh fruits and vegetables in nearby supermarkets is a challenge for some individuals.
  4.  Food advertising often promotes the consumption of unhealthy items, such as high-fat snacks like crisps and sugary beverages. Due to exceptional marketing strategies by different companies, these have become synonymous with different gatherings (they are even sponsors of certain sporting events).


Research indicates that genetics plays a role in obesity. Certain genetic disorders, like Prader-Willi syndrome, can directly lead to obesity, and obesity is the main cause of diabetes mellitus. Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, however, may not be an autoimmune disorder on its own.

Genes may also influence an individual’s susceptibility to weight gain. Scientists believe that genetics can heighten the likelihood of obesity, but additional factors, such as a plentiful food supply or limited physical activity, may also contribute to excess weight gain.

Medical Conditions and Medications

Certain medical conditions, such as an underactive thyroid, Cushing syndrome, and polycystic ovary syndrome, can lead to overweight or obesity due to hormone imbalances.

Furthermore, specific medications, including some corticosteroids, antidepressants, and seizure medicines, may result in weight gain.

Stress, Emotional Factors, and Sleep Patterns

Emotional factors, such as boredom, anger, distress, or stress, can lead some individuals to consume more food than usual.

Hormonal imbalances resulting from a lack of sleep can cause obesity by influencing appetite and the body’s energy utilization.

All of the above may cause obesity and obesity is the main cause of diabetes mellitus.

How do you Prevent Obesity and Diabetes?

The three most important ways to manage diabetes and weight are:

  • maintaining a healthy eating pattern
  • getting regular physical activity
  • limiting the time you spend sitting

Since obesity is the main cause of diabetes mellitus, reducing your risk for obesity will naturally reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

The CDC recommends the National Diabetes Prevention Program (NDPP) as a good method to reverse prediabetes and prevent type 2 diabetes. It was introduced to help people make lifestyle modifications in a supportive environment, with the aim of losing 5–7% of their total body mass.

Will Losing Weight Help You Reduce your Chances of Diabetes?

In conclusion, the National Diabetes Prevention Program (NDPP) has proven to be a powerful tool in reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This study involved lifestyle modifications, metformin medication, and a control group, and demonstrated that sustained dietary adjustments and regular exercise are highly effective in preventing type 2 diabetes. Research findings indicate that participants who engage in this program experience substantial risk reduction, with a 58% decrease overall, and an even more significant 71% reduction for individuals aged 60 and above. Since obesity is the main cause of diabetes mellitus, the above-mentioned methods may help people manage type 2 diabetes.

Revival Research Institute is a leading clinical research institute in Texas and Michigan. We are constantly helping advanced medical therapies reach people who need them and may also help the masses in the future. If you would like to participate, get in touch with us today!

Dr. Hamza Nadeem

Author Dr. Hamza Nadeem

Dr. Muhammad Hamza Nadeem currently works as a Patient Recruitment Associate. He has a firm grip on the medical research process and patient safety in clinical trials. His experience in writing combined with an academic background in medical science makes him well-suited to assist individuals in clinical trial participation.

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