Our society is obsessed with weight, if you haven’t discovered. More than two thirds of United States adults are overweight or obese, there are more diet books released than we can count, and, naturally, we have the benefit of seeing programs like The Biggest Loser to help keep us in line. And according to federal government statistics, more than 85% of people with Type 2 diabetes are obese. So it stands to reason that much of the focus of handling Type 2 diabetes is based on reaching and staying at a healthy weight.
Unexplained Weight Loss
It’s essential to note that thin people can get diabetes too, and not just Type 1 diabetes. In a 2008 research study released in the journal Diabetes Care, grownups age 60 to 79 years of ages with a body-mass index (BMI) of less than 18.5 (which is considered to be underweight) were 30% more likely to obtain Type 2 diabetes than grownups with a “normal” BMI of 18.5 to 24.9. In a society where being thin equates with beauty, youth, intelligence, and success, there is frequently little compassion or perseverance for individuals who are too thin and who desperately wish to gain weight.
If you’ve battled with dropping weight and keeping it off, you know all too well how challenging that can be. People who want to put on weight typically face the very same kind of battle. And to have diabetes on top of that can make it doubly challenging.
First things first: identify the cause
If you have diabetes, are underweight, and want to gain weight, it’s helpful to first have a talk with your doctor. Make certain there are no health or medical reasons for you being underweight (specifically if you’ve just recently slimmed down without trying) such as having an overactive thyroid, a digestive condition (such as Crohn disease), or cancer, for instance. A physical examination, blood work, and other tests might be needed to rule out certain conditions. Also, don’t neglect your psychological health: Being stressed, distressed, or depressed can shut off your hunger like a light switch.
Next, concentrate on your diabetes: unrestrained diabetes, evidenced by consistent high blood sugar levels and a high A1C level, can cause you to shed pounds and make it essentially impossible to put on weight. Why? Glucose levels that remain high for a while signal insufficient quantities of insulin, whether injected or made by your pancreas. When there isn’t really enough insulin around, glucose stays in your blood and can’t get to your cells to be used for energy. The body needs fuel from somewhere, so in the lack of glucose, it starts to burn fat and muscle (burning fat can be good, burning muscle not a lot).
So, if you’ve lost weight and/or are unable to put on weight AND your blood sugar levels have actually been running high, your first goal is to focus on getting your diabetes under much better control. Doing so may suggest starting on medicine (including, possibly, insulin), adding a different type of medication to your program, and/or increasing the dosage of a diabetes medication that you’re already taking. And, naturally, meal preparation and exercise work with your diabetes medicine to assist you manage your diabetes, also. Oftentimes, you might gain back the reduced weight when your blood glucose levels are ruled in.
Another possible reason for weight reduction may be a few of the medications that you take. While the effect of medicine on weight is typically very personalized, certain medicines could perhaps impact your weight including the following:
- Sedatives (diazepam [trademark name Valium and others]
- Antidepressants (bupropion [Wellbutrin and others], fluoxetine [Prozac and others], amitriptyline [Elavil and others]
- Antianxiety meds (benzodiazepines, buspirone [Buspar]
Diabetes medications aren’t off the hook as far as weight-loss goes, either. One example is metformin, a drug frequently used to help handle Type 2 diabetes. Metformin works by reducing the quantity of glucose produced by the liver, reducing absorption of glucose in the intestines, and increasing the body’s sensitivity to insulin. Some people who begin taking metformin wind up losing weight, likely due to several factors: Metformin can blunt the cravings, and at first, may cause queasiness, vomiting, and/or diarrhea (symptoms not precisely conducive to eating).
See also: Metformin and Diarrhea
GLP-1 receptor agonists, such as exenatide (Byetta), liraglutide (Victoza), and exenatide extended-release (Bydureon) are non-insulin injectable medicines that work in a number of ways to assist lower blood sugar: They slow the release of glucose from the liver, they slow the emptying of the stomach after consuming, and they help you eat less by making you feel more complete. As an outcome, many people who start on these medicines slim down — clearly helpful for somebody aiming to lose weight, but maybe not so much for somebody who has to gain or at least keep their weight.
If you have concerns about side effects of any of the medicines that you take, ask your pharmacist or your health-care provider.