What is the link between obesity and type 2 diabetes?

People with type 2 diabetes are often overweight.

This may cause insulin resistance. When the body stops using insulin efficiently, glucose builds up in the blood – which created those blood sugar spikes. If left untreated, high blood sugar may damage blood vessels. In turn, this damage to veins, arteries, and small capillaries in the body also create damage to organs like kidneys, eyes, and heart.

According to the British organization More Life, the negative effects of diabetes (much of it obesity related) can be classified into the following three categories:


Excess weight puts your organs under more pressure and it may cause them to work less efficiently. Over time, these conditions may significantly affect your quality of life and even cause death.

Obesity is a serious condition with many negative effects in the whole body, including:

  • Coronary heart disease. It refers to the buildup of plaque – fat and other waste material – in your arteries, which may cause blocking and hardening of the arteries. Over time, it may cause heart failure and arrhythmia. In turn, arrhythmia may be severe enough to cause your heart to stop.
  • High blood pressure. If left untreated, high blood pressure may cause heart failure, aneurysm, and strokes.
  • Strokes. A stroke happens when the blood flow to a part of the brain is blocked. This deprives that part of your brain of oxygen and nutrients. It can be a very serious, life-threatening condition, and it may cause paralysis and numbness, and memory loss.
  • Cancer. Even though the relationship between cancer and obesity has not been clearly explained, researchers agree higher than normal amounts of body fat may put patients at greater risk of some types of cancer.
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. It refers to several conditions that cause the liver to store too much fat in its cells, and it is not caused by alcohol consumption. It may cause cirrhosis and liver cancer.
  • Osteoarthritis. Excess weight puts additional pressure on the bones and joints, which may damage cartilages. Damage in the cartilages results in inflammation, reduced mobility, and pain. It is also the main cause of knee replacement surgery in patients with obesity.
  • Premature death. Yes, all of the above health threats can easily result in premature and preventable death at a younger age than those who are not obese.

Additionally, according to More Life, obesity reduces the patient’s life expectancy by 9 years regardless of any related condition.


The negative effects of diabetes don’t just include the body. Studies show that diabetes-sufferers are also at risk of psychological problems such as:

  • Depression. Research suggests there is not just one link between diabetes and depression. Like many other conditions, it is the result of many factors. In this case, it may be caused by body image and self-esteem issues, social exclusion, and physical pain from related conditions.
  • Low quality of life. Related diseases like heart disease, and joint pain may significantly impair the patient’s daily life. For example, physical pain may reduce mobility, prevent them from having employment, and cause social isolation.
  • Low self-esteem and body dissatisfaction. The importance of appearance in Western societies, paired with the difficulties many people with diabetes have to lose weight, may cause issues with self-esteem and body image.


Not able to eat what other people eat can make diabetes-sufferers feel excluded from “normal” people. There can be enormous peer pressure to eat what everyone else is eating.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute reports that people with obesity struggle with prejudice and discrimination in many areas of daily life – from employment to school and health care.

The effects of diabetes in all aspects of a person’s life may be devastating if not treated appropriately.

The bottom line is obesity is the #1 reason people get type 2 diabetes and many other diseases.