How Does Obesity Cause Diabetes?

An overview of what causes this disease

Multiple medical researchers have found direct links between obesity and the onset of diabetes. While obesity is linked to many health issues, the rising numbers of those diagnosed with diabetes has led researchers to take a closer look at the connection between excess body fat and how the body is able to utilize its main source of fuel, glucose.

PEDF

Associate Professor Matthew Watt is the leader of a research team at Monash University in Australia. The group has discovered that fat cells release a protein called pigment epithelium-derived factor (PEDF). The team found the release of this protein is an important link among the dominoes that fall and lead to a person developing type 2 diabetes.

According to Watt and his team, when this novel protein is released into the bloodstream, it causes the liver and muscles to become desensitized to insulin. Insulin causes cells to take up glucose in the bloodstream, store it and convert it to energy for the body. When the cells resist insulin due to excess fat, more insulin is then produced by the pancreas to counteract the negative effects, thereby overworking the pancreas and eventually slowing and stopping insulin. The study went on to state that the greater the amount of excess fatty tissue in a person, the higher their level of insulin resistance is likely to be.

Insulin Receptor Substrates

Insulin Receptor Substrates (IRS) are proteins within cells that are vital for normal response to insulin. Morris F. White, Ph.D., of the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, published a report stating the lack of IRS-2 affects blood glucose, appetite and fat storage. The study indicates that where there is reduced IRS function, it is due to a hormone known as resistin. Fat cells produce resistin that, in turn, causes the body to resist insulin.

Endoplasmic reticulum

Dr. Gokhan Hotamisligil, professor of genetics at the Harvard School of Public Health, calls the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) “the synthetic machine of the cell.” The ER processes proteins and blood fats. The research found that obesity adds stress to this system of membranes, which in turn sends a signal the insulin receptors that they should not respond. As long as the body remains overweight, the ER continues to signal receptors to halt, eventually causing the body to no longer be capable of responding properly to insulin.

Proper insulin function demands weight management

The pancreas releases insulin as you eat. The receptors in the cells are covered in the insulin, which permits sugar in the blood to enter the cell for energy production. Diabetes mellitus prevents the cells from using the insulin; therefore, the sugar remains in the bloodstream. Studies indicate various reasons for this occurrence, many connected directly to body weight.

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