Body Weight, Waist Size, and T2D

By | 27 October 2022

Body Weight, Waist Size, and T2D

Type 2 diabetes occurs when your blood sugar (blood glucose) is too high. Our cells burn blood sugar for energy, and blood sugar levels are controlled by insulin a hormone produced by the pancreas. In type 2 diabetes, cells become resistant to insulin, leaving too much sugar in your blood. This can cause damage over time.

Most cases of type 2 diabetes are brought on by lifestyle factors, including being overweight or obese, having a high waist-to-hip ratio, and inactivity. Stress and lack of sleep also contribute to the development of diabetes.

Fortunately, diabetes can be prevented, delayed or controlled by changing your lifestyle including managing your weight and body composition.

Body Weight and Diabetes

The food we eat is used for energy to get us through the day. When we eat more calories than we need, the excess energy is stored as fat.

Humans evolved as hunter-gatherers, and our ancestors lived through long periods of scarcity, during which this stored fuel came in handy. Unfortunately, in today’s world, with treats on every street corner, we rarely need to call on these stores. When too much fat is stored in our bodies, it can cause a variety of problems, including diabetes.

Your risk of diabetes goes up as your weight increases past a healthy range. However, total weight isn’t the only consideration. Many larger people are very healthy, with excellent diet and exercise habits, and a low risk of diabetes, while many thin people who eat poorly and don’t exercise have a high risk of diabetes because of visceral fat.

Visceral fat is fat that builds up around your organs, rather than being carried in more visible places such as your thighs. While it isn’t always visible, visceral fat can be a danger to your health, since it can interfere with organ function. Fortunately, visceral fat responds quickly to improvements in diet and exercise habits.

Measuring Visceral Fat

Your waist-to-hip ratio is a good measure of your visceral fat (and diabetes risk), regardless of body size. To measure your waist-to-hip ratio, measure the smallest part of your waist, just above your belly button, and the largest part of your hips. Divide your waist circumference by your hip circumference to get your waist-to-hip ratio. Here’s how your results stack up:

For men:

0.95 or lower = low health risk

0.96 -1 = moderate health risk

1 or higher = high health risk

For women:

0.8 or lower = low health risk

0.81 0.85 = moderate health risk

0.86 or higher = high health risk

In addition to waist-to-hip ratio, guidelines suggest that for optimum health, men should keep their waist measurement below 40” and women should keep their waist below 35”.

Regardless of your size, getting regular exercise and eating a healthy diet can reduce your visceral fat and lower your diabetes risk.