Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size

Diabetes to Blame for Obesity Deaths

Weight Alone Doesn't Increase Risk, Study Shows
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Sept. 25, 2006 -- Another wrinkle has been added to the debate over whether obesity is a major cause of early death. New research suggests that it is, but only in people who also have diabetes.

People with diabetes were three times as likely as those without it to develop life-threatening critical illness and die prematurely, shows a newly published study. But obese people who did not have diabetes had the same risk of death or organ failure as normal-weight people without the disease.

Being obese is a huge risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Nine out of 10 people with newly diagnosed type 2-diabetes are overweight or obese, according to the American Diabetes Association.

But most previous studies that have linked obesity to early death have not considered the independent impact of diabetes, researcher David M. Mannino, MD, tells WebMD.

"What this paper shows pretty clearly is that diabetes is really the driving factor in early death from critical illness among people who are overweight or obese," Mannino says.

'New Perspective'

Mannino and colleagues from the University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital and Atlanta's Emory University School of Medicine analyzed data from 15,408 people. The study was conducted in the mid- to late 1980s, and the participants were between the ages of 44 and 66 at enrollment.

Obesity was measured by calculating body mass index (BMI)body mass index (BMI), and hospital records were examined to determine if the participants experienced either acute organ failure (critical illness) or death from organ failure during the critical-illness hospitalization or within three years after the acute organ failure.

In the absence of diabetes, obese people in the study were not found to have an increased risk for either organ failure or early death.

But obese study participants -- those with BMIs over 30 -- were four times as likely to have diabetes as those who were normal weight.

The study appears in today's issue of the journal Critical Care.

"Our results do not support the contention that obesity itself is a risk factor for increased mortality in patients with acute organ failure," the researchers wrote. "It brings up a new perspective on this still controversial subject of obesity, critical illness, and mortality."

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Check Your Blood Sugar Level Now
What type of diabetes do you have?
Your gender:

Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!


or
Answer:
Low
0-69
Normal
70-130
High
131+

Your level is currently

If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?

Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.

Get Started

This tool is not intended for women who are pregnant.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

Diabetic tools
Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and more.
woman flexing muscles
10 strength training exercises.
 
Blood sugar test
12 practical tips.
Tom Hanks
Stars living with type 1 or type 2.
 
Woman serving fast food from window
Video
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Video
 
Middle aged person
Tool
are battery operated toothbrushes really better
Video
 

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Article
type 2 diabetes
Slideshow
 
food fitness planner
Tool
Are You at Risk for Dupuytrens Contracture
Article