Negative effects of obesity and diabetes on women’s health

By Dr. Kiran Rukadikar

The prevalence of overweight and obesity has increased rapidly in India. Research shows that obesity was higher among women than men (41.88 percent versus 38.67 percent). In addition, India has the world’s second highest population of diabetics. Genetic predisposition, inherent ethnicity, obesity, rapid urbanization, high intake of fast food and lack of exercise contribute to this increase in India. Of all these factors, obesity is the major modifiable risk factor for the development of type 2 diabetes. According to the ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research), 40-50 percent of men and women are overweight in most cities.

Especially obesity, increased fat content in the visceral space {ie. around the waist} reduces tissue sensitivity to insulin by about 30-40 percent.

Lipolysis of fat and release of free fatty acids from visceral fat is more pronounced than the subcutaneous fat. These free fatty acids interfere with the effect of cellular levels. Decreased insulin-stimulated glucose transport in skeletal muscle is responsible for insulin resistance.

Visceral fat releases a lot of free fatty acids. These free fatty acids can reach the liver through the portal circulation. In the liver, it again interferes with the action of insulin on the cells. This causes gluconeogenesis (a process of forming glucose from non-carbohydrate substances such as proteins or fats).

Diabetes – obesity-induced diabetes

Together, overweight and obesity account for about two-thirds of cases of type 2 diabetes. Various research reports have established that overweight or obesity is the single most important indicator of diabetes. For every 1 kg increase in measured weight, it increases the risk of diabetes by 4.5 percent.

In recent times, the risk of obesity in women has increased. The reasons include:

Overconsumption, that is, eating behaviors that predispose women to consume too much food in relation to energy needs, possibly including physiologically determined disturbances in appetite regulation.

Metabolic efficiency, for example – physiological factors that predispose women to store relatively more energy consumed at any level of intake.

Low energy consumption, ie possibly behavioral / gender differences in the ability to balance energy intake through routine or physical activity in leisure time; and

Less success with voluntary weight control due to either behavioral or physiological factors.

The problems that women face due to obesity and diabetes vary as they depend on their age, family history, etc. PCOD, irregular menstruation and hirsutism at a very early age are some of the problems that obese women face for. Secondary infertility, hypothyroidism, diabetes, hypertension are common among middle-aged and elderly women who are overweight. Furthermore, obese women with diabetes have a very high risk of suffering from heart disease and hypertension. We have often seen a higher number of cases of breast cancer, gallstones, severe acid peptic disorders in obese patients.

Other problems that obese women face include chronic stress, anxiety, eating disorders, mood swings and depression.

The solutions:

Healthy low-calorie but balanced diet helps control and prevent obesity and diabetes. Avoiding fried foods, sweets, dried fruits and nuts and high fat dairy products can make a huge difference for them. Including grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, salads, skimmed milk products and low-calorie non-vegetarian foods will help them reduce weight. The amount of course depends on your height, age and physical activities. It is not advisable to exercise for obese patients; physical activity like walking is sufficient for weight loss. DietQueen, an app for weight loss and nutrition for women, recommends comprehensive, customized diet plans for women suffering from obesity and diabetes.

(The author is a renowned obesity doctor and weight loss specialist; founder of the DietQueen app. The article is for informational purposes only. Please consult medical experts and healthcare professionals before embarking on any therapy, medication, and / or means. Views are personal and do not reflect it. official position or policy of

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