Weight Management and Diabetes: Should You Lose Weight?

Reviewed by Sharon Denny, MS, RDN
Balance - Weight Management and Diabetes: Should You Lose Weight?

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March is National Nutrition Month, when the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reminds everyone to return to the basics of healthy eating. It is also the time of year when the Academy celebrates expertise of registered dietitian nutritionists as the food and nutrition experts.

For individuals with diabetes who are overweight or obese, moderate weight loss can help improve insulin resistance and glycemic outcomes.

Modest weight loss means losing about 5 to 7 percent of your weight. For example, at a weight of 165 pounds, modest weight loss would equate to shedding 8 pounds. Losing this amount of weight may improve how your body responds to insulin and your overall glucose levels.

Finding Your BMI

Many people don't know their current weight or if they are at a healthy weight, overweight or obese status. Do a quick check to calculate body mass index with this formula: [weight (in pounds) x 703] / [height (in inches)2] or use the Academy BMI calculator. For example, an individual at 5 feet and 6 inches tall weighing 165 pounds (165 x 703) / (662) has a BMI of 26.6, which is in the overweight category.

BMI

Weight Status

Below 18.5

Underweight

18.5 to 24.9

Normal or Healthy Weight

25.0 to 29.9

Overweight

Over 29.9

Obese

In addition to BMI, other physical measurements, such as body fat percentage, distribution of body fat and waist circumference, are important methods of assessing overweight and obesity.

It is unclear if weight loss alone has a significant impact on glycemic control. Research has found improvements in HgA1c and blood lipids such as triglycerides and cholesterol with weight loss in some people with diabetes but not others. Controlling blood sugar is the best way to manage diabetes.

Eating right and getting enough physical activity are important for diabetes management. With your registered dietitian nutritionist and diabetes health care team, you will choose a treatment plan that is best for you. Together you have the best chance for success.

The bottom line is that modest weight loss may help improve your diabetes outcomes if you are overweight or obese. The ultimate goal is glycemic control, and meeting with your registered dietitian nutritionist regularly will help you achieve that goal.

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