Not overweight? Here’s why your diabetes risk may still be high

Not overweight? Here’s why your diabetes risk may still be high

In a recent study, researchers found that at least 50 percent of Americans have some form of insulin resistance, which is associated with diabetes, pre-diabetes, heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure.

The more surprising data from this research: a high percentage of those found to have diabetes or pre-diabetes are not overweight or obese.

“Weight is not always an accurate tool by which to gauge metabolic health” states Dr. Robert Lustig, professor of pediatric endocrinology at the University of California, San Francisco. It is common to exercise to lose weight, but the benefits extend much farther than the scale.

Whether you are at a healthy weight or not, you need to exercise.

The CDC estimates that one in nine adults has diabetes, and, if current trends continue, one in three will be diabetic by the year 2050. While the number of people diagnosed with diabetes continues to rise, the age at which people are being diagnosed is going down.

The number of diabetes-related hospitalizations among people in their 30s has doubled in the past decade, with women 1.3 times more likely to be admitted than men. The number of people with pre-diabetes is perhaps the more troubling statistic: 84 million American adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The bigger problem is about nine out of ten pre-diabetics do not even know they are sick.

If you are reading this and are not sure if you may be diabetic or pre-diabetic, start by talking to your doctor. A fasting blood insulin or fasting glucose test can confirm this, and the time to take action is now.

Also, start moving more. Sitting for more than eight hours a day has been shown to increase your risk for type 2 diabetes by 90 percent, and in this desk-strapped culture we live in, you have to make the time to get up and move.

Fortunately, proper exercise and attention to diet have huge effects on the course of this disease. A study of healthy middle-age adults were able to improve their insulin sensitivity and blood sugar regulation after just two weeks of interval training three times a week.

This study also involved people with type 2 diabetes, and just one interval training session was able to improve blood sugar regulation for the next 24 hours.

Remember that just because you are not overweight does not mean you are metabolically healthy, especially if you live a sedentary lifestyle.

The good news is there is something that you can do. Make sure you are getting up every hour to move and promote circulation, and incorporate 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least five times a week. If you are not sure how to get started, talk to your doctor or a fitness professional.

Are you at risk of developing diabetes? Learn by taking our Diabetes Risk Assessment.

Molly Smeltzer is the fitness and wellness manager at Advocate BroMenn Health & Fitness Center, located at 1111 Trinity Lane in Bloomington, Ill. It is a medically-based fitness facility open to anyone, seven days a week, with exercise professionals on staff at all times. For more information, call 309-433-WELL (9355).

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About the Author

Molly Smeltzer
Molly Smeltzer

Molly Smeltzer is the fitness and wellness manager at Advocate BroMenn Health & Fitness Center. She specializes in individual and small group training, senior fitness, post rehabilitative exercise prescription and assessment evaluation and exercise programming. Molly believes there is a way to help everyone through exercise and enjoys guiding people in the safest and most effective way to do so.