• Jasmine Blake Hollywood, MS, HHP

What is Diabetes? Diabetes Across the Lifespan

Regardless of age, income, education, or health status, to keep yourself and families healthy, this first step is to learn about a major condition that strikes the world in many places, affecting all ages, ethnicities, and genders. The condition being described is Diabesity. Diabesity is a cross between obesity and diabetes, its starts when a person with optimal blood sugar balance begins to have insulin imbalance. [5].

What is Obesity?

Obesity is classified as excess storage of body fat. Men presenting with body fat percentage >25% and women presenting with body fat percentages >33% can be labeled as obese. [2]. Obesity is categorized into classes ranging in how much body fat is on a person. Classes are class 1, class 2 and class 3. Meal frequency and timing along with exercise are major lifestyle factors in determining the level of obesity. [2].  We can assess obesity through the body mass index (BMI). Also assessing waist circumference can be a greater predictor of heart disease and other diseases. [3].

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes a condition of excessive inflammation that occurs in the body. A fasting blood sugar >100 is considered prediabetes and a fasting blood sugar of >126 is considered diabetes.

Other Diseases Related to Diabetes

Diabetes is almost identical to insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, syndrome X, prediabetes, adult-onset diabetes, and type 2 diabetes.

How is Diabetes Caused?

This excessive inflammation causes free radical damage or reactive oxygen species (ROS).[6]. ROS are unpaired electrons that bouncing around in the mitochondria trying to find their partner. The more these free radicals build-up in the mitochondria, the more damage they do to the mitochondrial wall. The mitochondria is where you make energy. After the mitochondrial wall is destroyed the radicals go on to destroy the cell membranes. Once this happens the insulin receptors do not work as well and this can cause insulin resistance. [6].

How is Diabetes Related to Heart Disease?

Diabetes and cardiovascular disease are closely related. They are not the same condition, but the conditions are caused by the same influences and treated with similar foods. This is why the Institute for Functional Medicine has implemented a meal plan called the Cardiometabolic Meal Plan to help remit this disease. [1].


Common Facts, [6]:

  • over 70% of adult Americans already have pre-diabetes

  • gaining 17-24 pounds put you at risk for type 2 diabetes

  • 67 million people in America have diabetes

  • 27 million in America have pre-diabetes

  • diabetes is now more often found in children, and 1 in 3 children are overweight

What is Diabesity?

Diabesity occurs when someone consumes too much food with too much animal fat, a calorie-dense, and nutrient-poor diet, and doesn't get adequate excerise.[4].  Diabesity can happen in overweight individuals or skinny fat individuals. Also, not being able to make enough insulin due to fatty deposits from being overweight is a large factor. [6]. Diabesity is a global problem and affects 240 million people worldwide. [6]. Childhood diabesity is more frequently seen and children are now being admitted to hospitals for cardiovascular diseases and other problems. [6].

How do Genes Affect Diabetes?

Genes from parents can in combination cause diabetes. Yet, both parents have different genes. One parental gene can predispose one factor, while another set of parental genes can predispose insulin resistance. Two parents with similar genes can create a predisposition in their offspring. Genes can also set a predisposition for islet cell issues, causing the islet cells can wear out easily causing the pancreas to dysfunction. [6].

What are the Symptoms of Diabetes?

Symptoms of diabetes can range from a number amount of things, and much information on the web is spread across varying diseases. These are just a few symptoms that can be related to diabetes. The symptoms of diabetes are, [6]:

  • migraines

  • obstructive sleep apnea

  • cardiovascular disease

  • gastroesophageal reflux

  • urinary incompetence

  • degenerative joint disease

  • gout

  • elevated cholesterol

  • high blood pressure

  • non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

  • polycystic ovarian disease

  • inflammation in the liver

  • menstrual dysfunction

  • varicose veins

The consequences of diabetes are, [6]:

  • heart disease

  • hyperlipidemia

  • stroke

  • dementia

  • kidney damage

  • nerve damage

  • cancer

  • premature death

How to Treat Diabetes

To reduce blood sugar a person should reduce empty calories and replace them with calorie-dense foods full of nutrients. [4]. Maintaining body weight person can reduce blood pressure, reduce triglycerides and improve lipid profile, and reduce insulin resistance. [3]. The general quality of life (QOL) is improved once the normal weight is accomplished. Changing lifestyle and environmental factors are the number one ways to cure this disease, meaning, this disease is onset due to your own personal lifestyle choices that you choose to make. This cannot be cured by medication.

Treatment plans include:

  • changing lifestyle and personal choices

  • symptom management through the use of pharmecuetals which is only prescribed for people with diabetes

  • adopting the Mediterranean diet

  • adopting exercise 30 to 45 minutes most days of the week can significantly reduce disease

  • mental, emotional, and spiritual counseling


  1. Cardiometabolic Food Plan [PDF]. (2016). Institute for Functional Medicine. Retrieved from www.ifm.org

  2. Gaby, A. (2017). Nutritional Medicine. Concord, NH: Fritz Perlberg Publishing.

  3. Gertler, A. (2013). Obesity and heart disease [Video]. In Youtu.be. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0JQu03yalg0

  4. Hyman, M. (2012). Why obesity and malnutrition go together [Video]. In Youtu.be. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxLiU2Nu2sA

  5. Hyman, M. (2009). The diabesity epidemic part 1: How diabetes and obesity are ravaging America today. Video]. In Youtu.be. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VanORGuXgkk

  6. Regalla, S. H. (2020). NUTR634, Module 1 [Resources]. Retrieved from Lecture Notes Online Web site https://www.learn.muih.edu

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