Health Watch — The Obesity Epidemic: Treating Diabetes

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications  and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about the health impact of the obesity epidemic in the United States. In the past 60 years, the American lifestyle has changed, with more calories consumed and fewer used. As a result, more people are severely overweight, and more people develop insulin-resistant diabetes.

A recent study found that treating this kind of diabetes with insulin doesn’t work. Dr. Roger Unger, a diabetes expert at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says giving insulin to an obese patient with insulin-resistant diabetes only increases body fat, which makes the patient even more insulin-resistant and more likely to put on weight. The way to fight this kind of diabetes is to reduce body fat, which will reduce the level of insulin resistance. Insulin is still an appropriate treatment for insulin-dependent diabetics, whose bodies don’t produce it.

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March 2008

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