What’s On Your Plate? Does Overeating Cause Diabetes

February 13, 2020

We live in the modern-day age of convenience where everything is available to us at the touch of a button. A study published in the Journal of Translational Medicine proves that obesity and Type 2 diabetes are even more closely linked to high-calorie diets than was initially thought. According to the findings of the research, overeating can tip your body into a pre-diabetic state in less than a week. This article seeks to shed some light on some of our eating habits and how they might lead us down a path of chronic illness.

  1. Diabetes Mellitus and Diet

Diabetes exists in two forms: type-1 and type-2. It is not known what the exact cause of type-1 diabetes is. Type-2 however, has been attributed to poor diet and a lack of exercise.

Approximately 95% of all cases are type 2. Both types Present with excess glucose, or blood sugar, in their blood that is not removed by the hormone called insulin. In type-2 diabetics, insulin resistance develops, and fat, liver and muscle cells no longer respond correctly to insulin. Symptoms of type-2 diabetes can include fatigue, hunger, increased thirst, blurred vision, erectile dysfunction, increased urination, and slower healing. Notably, people diagnosed with type-2 diabetes more likely to be overweight because excess fat makes it more difficult for the body to correctly utilize insulin.

Diabetes mellitus (DM) was first recognized as a disease around 3000 years ago by the ancient Egyptians and Indians, illustrating some clinical features very similar to what we now know as diabetes. DM is a combination of two words, “diabetes” Greek word derivative, means siphon – to pass through and the Latin word “Mellitus” means honeyed or sweet. In 1776, excess sugar in blood and urine was first confirmed in Great Britain.

  1. What is the role of diet in T2DM?

In India, a startling observation was made. The disease was almost always confined to rich people who consumed oil, flour, and sugar in excessive amounts. This was further proved by the First and Second World Wars, where declines in the diabetes mortality rates were documented due to food shortage and famines in the countries involved such as Germany and other European countries. In Berlin, the diabetes mortality rate declined from 23.1/100,000 in 1914 to 10.9/100,000 in 1919. Adversely, there was no change in diabetes mortality rate in other countries that did not experience food shortage in the same period such as Japan and North American countries.

Though consumption of carbohydrates has been shown to increase the risk of developing T2DM, sugar is a more harmful culprit. In a study that involved more than 500 ethnically diverse schoolchildren for 19 months, it was found that for each additional serving of carbonated drinks consumed, the frequency of obesity increased. This was after adjusting for different parameters such as dietary, demographic, anthropometric, and lifestyle.

Recent evidence suggests a link between the intake of soft drinks and obesity and diabetes. This is as a result of the large amounts of high fructose corn syrup used in the manufacturing of these drinks. They have the potential to raise blood glucose levels and BMI to the dangerous levels. It was also noted that diet soft drinks contain glycated chemicals that significantly boost insulin resistance.

There has been a strong link between food and obesity. Both the composition and volume of food matter in this case. High intake of red meat, sweets, and fried foods contributes to the increased risk of insulin resistance and T2DM. Inversely, consumption of fruits and vegetables may protect against the development of T2DM, as they are rich in nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants which are considered as a protective barrier against the diseases.

A recent study of Japanese women revealed that elevated intake of white rice was associated with an elevated risk of T2DM. Dietary knowledge is a significant factor that influences dietary behaviors.

  1. What then can we do to decrease our chances of getting diabetes?
  • Avoid Fast Food

Several studies have shown that fast-food consumption can further the development of type-2 diabetes. A 2013 study published in the “European Journal of Nutrition” set out to clarify the role of dietary patterns in the onset of type-2 diabetes in overweight people. The study found that diets high in soft drinks and french fries, and low in fruit and vegetables, were associated with a greater risk of type-2 diabetes in overweight participants, particularly among those who are less physically active. A 2005 study published in “Lancet” concluded that fast-food consumption has a strong positive correlation with weight gain and insulin resistance, implying that fast-food intake may promote obesity and type-2 diabetes.

  • Minimize Your Sugar Intake

High-sugar diets promote both weight gain and insulin resistance, which eventually leads to a susceptibility to type-2 diabetes. In addition, having type-2 diabetes significantly increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Dietary modifications, therefore, can greatly reduce the risk of both type-2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Note the quality of fats you use

It may be more important to focus on the quality of the fats and carbohydrates consumed in order to prevent type-2 diabetes. High intakes of trans- fatty acids, saturated fats, refined carbohydrates, and other processed foods increase the risk for type-2 diabetes, whereas whole grains, polyunsaturated fats, fiber-rich foods, omega-3 fatty acids, and other minimally processed foods can lower your risk.

  • Breakfast should not be skipped

Breakfast is an important meal that, it is even argued that it is the most important. When missed, it can result in health issues. 2012 a study published in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” found that skipping breakfast increased the risk for type-2 diabetes, even after adjusting for body mass index. Snacking between meals was also found to increase type-2 diabetes risk.

  • Increase Vitamin D intake

According to the National Institutes of Health, Vitamin D studies show a link between people’s ability to maintain healthy blood glucose levels and having enough vitamin D in their blood. Fish oils, trout, salmon, cheese, eggs, and mushrooms are all gold sources of Vitamin D.

  • Increase Your Activity

NIDDK studies show that insulin resistance goes down when you increase how much you move throughout the day. Try increasing your time spent walking for 30 minutes, five days per week (that’s only five 6-minute walks each day at work).

  • Do not Smoke

Ever. According to the CDC, smokers are 30-40 percent more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than nonsmokers.

  • Keep Your Waist in Check

According to NIH, a waist measurement of 40 inches or more for men is linked to insulin resistance and increases a person’s risk for Type 2 diabetes. This is true even if a person’s BMI falls within the normal range.

  1. Everybodys responsibility

Type 2 diabetes is largely preventable by taking several simple steps: keeping weight under control, exercising more, eating a healthy diet, and not smoking. Yet it is clear that the burden of behavior change cannot fall entirely on individuals. Families, schools, worksites, healthcare providers, communities, media, the food industry, and government must work together to make healthy choices easy choices.


  1. NCBI (2017): Effect of diet on type 2 diabetes mellitus: A review. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5426415/
  2. Livestrong.com(2017): Can a Poor Diet Cause Diabetes? Retrieved from https://www.livestrong.com/article/445709-can-a-poor-diet-cause-diabetes/
  3. Men’s Journal (2019): Overeating Makes You Fat and Diabetic Faster than you Think. Retrieved from https://www.mensjournal.com/ www health-fitness/overeating-makes-you-fat-and-diabetic-faster-you-think/
  4. HSPH (2019): Simple Steps to Preventing Diabetes. Retrieved from https://.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/disease-prevention/diabetes-prevention/preventing-diabetes-full-story/

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