Diabetes and Your Body Mass Index (BMI)

Last year a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealed a new link between diabetes, obesity and being overweight. For years health professionals have warned about the adverse effects of a high body mass index (BMI) on the body, which includes insulin resistance that leads to type 2 diabetes.

Insulin resistance results from consuming too many calories, which forces your body to produce more insulin to regulate blood glucose. Eventually, the cells in your body don't respond to insulin and blood sugar rises. This is a commonly known link between diabetes, obesity and being overweight.

But, researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC) have discovered a new link between increased levels of fat in the human body and type 2 diabetes. High levels of fats (lipids) in the blood destroy insulin-producing beta-cells in the pancreas by reducing the protein carboxypeptidase E (CPE), a process that leads to type 2 diabetes.

CPE is a protein in the beta-cells of the pancreas, and plays a key role in producing insulin. This study was the first time scientists had looked at its link to beta-cell failure, shedding new light on the connection between diabetes, and obesity and overweight.

"Scientists have been hunting for the major protein targets of lipids in beta-cells for many years and we discovered that CPE is it," says Jim Johnson, senior author of the paper and assistant professor in UBC's Department of Cellular and Physiological Sciences. "Using a powerful new technology called proteomics, we were the first to show that fats can dramatically reduce the levels of CPE, thereby linking one of the most important diabetes risk factors to this important protein that controls beta-cell function and survival."

What is BMI?

Body mass index, or BMI, is highly correlated with body fat and is used to determine obesity and overweight. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines BMI as your weight in kilograms divided by the square of your height in metres (kg/m2).

A normal BMI is 18.50 to 24.99. People who are overweight have a BMI of 25. If you're BMI is between 25 and 29.99 you're considered pre-obese. Obesity is defined as a BMI of 30 or higher.

The vast majority of people with type 2 diabetes have a BMI over 25 - and most of them have a BMI over 30.

To prevent type 2 diabetes, your ideal BMI is 20 to 25. It's also considered the ideal BMI if you already have diabetes.

Diabetes and Obesity Affects Kids Too

Over the past three decades obesity rates have doubled in American children ages two to five, and 12 to 19. It has more than tripled in the six-to-11 age group. As a result, the number of children developing type 2 diabetes has steadily risen, increasing their risk for conditions such as vision problems, cardiovascular disease, and knee and hip osteoarthritis.

How to Lower Your BMI and Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

Think of lowering your BMI as an equation: less calories in and more calories burned. While the theory is easy, it's the practice that leaves many of us battling diabetes and obesity. Studies show that managed weight loss programs are often more successful for people battling obesity. Still, there are lifestyle and nutritional changes you can make at home to lower your BMI.

• Substitute good fats for bad fats. Your body needs good fats. You can find them in fatty fish such as salmon, trout, herring and albacore tuna. Eat fish twice or three times a week instead of meat. Also, use extra virgin olive oil when you're cooking. Choose prepackaged foods that have low levels of saturated fats and leave foods with trans fats on the shelves.

• Eliminate one bad eating habit a week. You're more likely to fail if you try to make several dietary changes at once. Instead, focus on making one change each week, such as eliminating fast food, consuming three fruits and five veggies a day, or using a natural low-calorie sweetener such as stevia in your tea, coffee or cereal.

• Get playing. Instead of viewing exercise as a hard labor sentence, join a fun activity or sport. Bike with a friend or your kids, play Frisbee at the park, go hiking, or learn ballroom dancing. Put more play into physical activity and you'll be more likely to stick to it. Try to play at least 30 minutes five days a week.

• Consider surgery. If you've been battling obesity unsuccessfully for a while, speak to your doctor about obesity surgery. Studies have shown that lap band and bariatric surgeries not only help people lose weight, they can help eliminate type 2 diabetes for five y ears or more.

• Eat breakfast cereal. Girls who eat any type of cereal for breakfast are 2.4 times less likely to be overweight or obese, and boys are 1.7 times less likely to be overweight or obese. Also, a low-glycemic breakfast such as porridge or muesli may prevent snacking between meals and overeating at lunch.

Type 2 diabetes and obesity are preventable. The sooner you start prevention, the more likely you are to avoid other serious health complications.

Study Reference

Journal Name: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 105(24): pp. 8452-8457

Study Date: June 2008

Study Name: Carboxypeptidase E mediates palmitate-induced β-cell ER stress and apoptosis

Website: http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=2448857

Authors: Kristin D. Jeffrey, Emilyn U. Alejandro, Dan S. Luciani, Tatyana B. Kalynyak, Xiaoke Hu, Hong Li, Yalin Lin, R. Reid Townsend, Kenneth S. Polonsky, and James D. Johnso

Journal Name: Pediatrics, Vol. 112 No. 5 pp. e414-e414

Study Date: November 2003

Study Name: Low Glycemic Index Breakfasts and Reduced Food Intake in Preadolescent Children

Website: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/112/5/e414

Authors: Janet M. Warren, PhD*, C. Jeya K. Henry, PhD* and Vanessa Simonite, PhD