Is losing weight a Sign of Diabetes?

For those of you who want to lose weight, the ads that show up on the media claiming quick fixes are a lure and a temptation calling – reducing significant weight in a short period of time. But, imagine you do lose a good amount of weight and you haven’t tried anything, should it be a cause of concern? Yes say the medical experts and it might actually be one of the symptoms of diabetes or something else worse!

Burden of obesity in India

Blame it on the lifestyles we choose or our genetics, more and more Indians are morbidly obese and that’s no good news. From an undernourished country, we have made an epidemiological transition to a high prevalence of obesity. And, a person with a higher BMI is at a risk of type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases and many other complications. There is growing awareness on the ill effects of obesity and many people put in efforts to shed excess weight. This is one part of the story.

The other part of the story is that it is very difficult for most people to lose weight in a healthy manner. Retaining the muscle mass and losing excessive visceral fat deposits is not an easy and quick process and might take a combination of lifestyle modifications, diet, and exercise.

Sudden Weight loss

Some people on the other hand have sudden unintentional weight loss. A sudden unintentional weight loss is defined as the loss of a significant amount of body weight ( generally 5%) without any exercise or diet change. This might be the symptom of an underlying condition.

Causes of sudden weight loss

  • Certain types of cancers.
  • Eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia.
  • Dementia.
  • Depression.
  • Diabetes mellitus.
  • Infectious diseases.
  • Hypothyroidism.

Diabetes Mellitus and unexplained weight loss

First up, it has to be understood that diabetes can affect people with normal BMI also. It is not a condition of the obese alone. Diabetes and the BMI of a patient have a deep relation as it is a metabolic disorder. Sudden weight loss is a classic sign of diabetes along with the presence of other symptoms of diabetes like excessive hunger, thirst, and urination. It is a fact that most people who were diagnosed with diabetes first visit the hospital with unexplained weight loss.

Weight loss is one of the major symptoms of type 2 diabetes and type 1 diabetes as high blood glucose levels and high levels of HbA1c levels are a result of insufficient insulin. Insufficient insulin levels cause metabolic changes that in turn lead to weight loss. When the insulin levels are less, the cells of the body cannot get glucose from the blood to use as energy.This leads to sudden weight loss. This is unhealthy as it leads to muscle breakdown.

So, if you experience any unexplained weight loss (along with symptoms of diabetes), consult your physician immediately.