People who no longer fit into the jeans they wore when they turned 21 are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Even if they are not overweight, so says one of the world’s leading experts on diabetes.
Anyone who discovers that their old jeans have become too small is, according to Professor Roy Taylor (Newcastle University), “carrying too much fat”. Remarkably, this also applies to people with a healthy BMI (body mass index).
The initial results of a study announced by Taylor at a conference showed that eight of the twelve participants – all with a healthy BMI – managed to overcome type 2 diabetes by losing 10 to 15 percent of their body weight. Consequently, fat levels in the liver and pancreas decreased, allowing blood sugar to be controlled.
Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, in which the body does not respond adequately to the insulin produced, causing blood sugar levels to increase. It is estimated that one-third of patients with this type do not know that they have diabetes. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or countered with a healthy lifestyle, unlike type 1 diabetes.
“Doctors tend to assume that type 2 diabetes has a different cause in people who are not overweight. What we have shown is that if people with normal body weight lose 10 to 15 percent of their weight, they have a very good chance of getting rid of their diabetes,” explained Taylor, also the lead author of the study.
For two weeks, the study participants, who had an average BMI of 24.5 (and thus a healthy weight), followed a weight loss plan. That included a low-calorie diet in which they took in only 800 calories each day through soups and shakes until they had lost enough body weight.
The researchers saw that fat levels in the liver decreased. In eight subjects, type 2 diabetes went into remission. In other words, they had normal blood sugars for an extended period without needing medication.
Not due to obesity
According to Taylor, these preliminary results “show very clearly that diabetes is not caused by obesity, but by being too heavy for your own body”, added the author. “As a rule of thumb, your waist circumference should be the same now as when you were 21. If you can’t fit into the same size pants now, you are carrying too much fat and therefore at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, even if you are not overweight.”
The full results of the study are expected in 2022.