Weight loss is a common recommendation for treatment for type 2 diabetes. Many people are overweight when they’re first diagnosed, and that extra fat actually increases their insulin resistance (when their bodies can’t properly use the hormone insulin).
By losing weight, people with type 2 diabetes can become less insulin resistant, and they’re able to use insulin better.
If you’ve recently been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and you're overweight, you should get started as soon as possible on a weight loss plan. It is important to work with a registered dietitian to help you figure out a plan that will work for you—a healthy meal plan, physical activity, and realistic goals will help you reach a healthy weight.
There are many advantages to losing weight (and not just diabetes-related ones):
Lower your cholesterol levels (especially important for people with type 2 diabetes)
Protect your heart (also important for people with diabetes, since heart-related complications are very common)
Make it easier to control your blood glucose level
As you may already know, losing weight can be a challenge, but don’t let that stop you. Do whatever you need to in order to stay motivated.
It is the amount of calories we eat that contributes to weight gain. Make small changes. Learn portion sizes and reduce the amount of snacks in your day to reduce the total amount of calories you consume each day. Find cookbooks with healthier recipes using low-fat options.
Work with a registered dietitian who specializes in diabetes to help you set reasonable goals.
For some people, losing weight doesn’t help them have better control of their blood glucose levels, and that’s all right. They may need to use medications or insulin to keep their blood glucose level in the normal range, but they should also still eat healthy foods and increase physical activity.
Everyone should strive for a healthy weight. Losing weight can help lower your body’s insulin resistance, but if it doesn’t help you achieve better blood glucose control, that doesn’t mean you’ve failed—or that you should give up. Losing weight and then maintaining a healthy weight are healthy choices for life—whether you have type 2 diabetes or not.
American Diabetes Association. Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes—2009. Diabetes Care.2009;32:S13-61.
Becker G. Type 2 Diabetes: An Essential Guide for the newly Diagnosed. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Marlowe & Company; 2007.
McCulloch D. Patient information: Diabetes type 2: Overview. UpToDate Web site. January 30, 2009. Available at: http://www.uptodate.com/patients/content/topic.do?topicKey=~n0K0MIfI1iZs.&selectedTitle=5~150&source=search_result. Accessed April 20, 2009.
McCulloch D. Patient information: Diabetes mellitus type 2: Overview. UpToDate Web site. December 4, 2008. Available at: http://www.uptodate.com/patients/content/topic.do?topicKey=~X0jjLnBn4._ko&selectedTitle=4~150&source=search_result. Accessed April 20, 2009.