Weight Loss for Diabetes Doesn’t Makes Sense
By Richard P. Holm, MD
There is an epidemic of obesity in the United States. As people get older, their risk for diabetes and diabetes-associated complications will expand like their waistlines. The average weight of 5’9 men in 1960 was 166lbs. It is now 195lbs. The average weight of 5’4 women in 1960 was 140lbs and is now 166lbs. The CDC estimates that 69% of American adults over the age of 20 are either overweight or obese. Complications of diabetes associated with obesity include premature aging of blood vessels, nerves, kidneys, and the immobility that goes with weighing too much.
With this looming potential for catastrophe, we should first ask the question: “why is this epidemic happening?” Is it because of genetics? Adoption and twin studies show that we usually end up being about the same weight as our biological parents, not adoptive parents. This, however, doesn’t explain why rates of obesity are increasing. There must then be environmental factors to explain this upward trend. Is it the lack of activity of today’s youth? Is it the food that pregnant mothers eat which nourishes their babies in the uterus before birth, or the way we feed babies in the first months after birth? Is it high calorie starchy fast food? We simply do not know why this epidemic is occurring.
Still, there must be something we can do. Repeated studies show, even with the best weight-loss programs, only 35% of individuals will lose significant weight. Furthermore, over the following year, only 10% of them will be able to keep it off. Over the next five years, almost all of them will return to their original weight. Nothing seems to work short of surgery, which is dangerous and not always effective—at least 50% of those people will regain their weight as well. We can therefore infer that weight loss programs are either ineffective or potentially very harmful, especially if people are shamed or criticized into trying them.
My recommendation is to take or give NO CRITICISM of individuals who are overweight, especially if they have or are predicted to have diabetes. The value of each individual has nothing to do with weight and all to do with your heart. What remains most important is that obesity may not go away but diabetes gets better when we eat right (a balanced, low calorie, healthy diet with lots of vegetables) and exercise daily (like a brisk walk one to three miles a day). We should all forget about weight as the goal. Lifestyle should be the goal, along with loving yourself the way you are.