Weight Management and Diabetes: Should You Lose Weight?

Reviewed by Sarah Klemm, RDN, CD, LDN
Balance - Weight Management and Diabetes: Should You Lose Weight?

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For individuals with diabetes and overweight or obese body mass indices, modest weight loss may help improve insulin resistance and glycemic outcomes.

Modest weight loss means losing about 5 to 7% of total body 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 the body responds to insulin and overall glucose levels.

Finding Your Body Mass Index

Many people don't know their current weight or if it is considered to be healthy, overweight or obese. Do a quick check to calculate body mass index, or BMI, with this formula or use an online calculator:
[weight (in pounds) x 703] / [height (in inches) squared]

For example, an individual at 5 feet and 6 inches tall weighing 165 pounds (165 x 703) / (66 x 66) 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 HgbA1c and blood lipids, such as triglycerides and cholesterol, improve with weight loss in some people with diabetes but not others. Controlling blood sugar is the key focus in managing diabetes.

Eating right and getting enough physical activity are important for diabetes management. Work with a registered dietitian nutritionist and diabetes healthcare team to 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 have a BMI that is considered overweight or obese. The ultimate goal is glycemic control, and meeting with your registered dietitian nutritionist regularly can help you achieve that goal.

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