What Is Mild Obesity-Related Diabetes?

Prediabetes, Borderline Diabetes, Diabetes Mellitus, MOD

Table of Contents
View All
Table of Contents

Diabetes mellitus, also called type 2 diabetes or diabetes, is a serious medical condition linked to having excess weight or obesity. It involves high blood sugar and challenges with the way the body processes food.

Mild obesity-related diabetes (MOD) occurs when you have excess weight or obesity but do not have insulin resistance, which is when the body's cells do not absorb sugar well and stop responding to insulin. This is a concern because it can lead to high blood sugar levels and diabetes.

It is sometimes confused with prediabetes, which happens when blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes.

This article discusses the condition, causes, treatment options, and more.

diabetes-weight-loss
Getty Images

Types of Diabetes

There are two primary types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes happens when the immune system attacks healthy cells and prevents insulin production in the body.

Type 2 diabetes happens when the body struggles to manage levels of blood sugar, often related to not being physically active, eating unhealthy foods, and having excess weight or obesity.

Mild obesity-related diabetes is a form of type 2 diabetes that involves having excess weight or obesity without having difficulty responding to the hormone insulin, which helps control blood sugars.

Diabetes Types

Mild Obesity-Related Diabetes Symptoms

Mild obesity-related diabetes involves having excess weight and obesity without the challenges of insulin resistance and blood sugar level challenges. Therefore, the symptoms of each type are different.

People with mild obesity-related diabetes may experience general symptoms associated with excess weight and obesity such as a body mass index (BMI) that is above 25 and a waist measurement that is above 40 inches for men or 35 inches for women.

Other weight-related challenges may include:

People with this condition do not typically experience symptoms related to insulin resistance and blood sugar, including extreme thirst or dry mouth, frequent urination, fatigue, blurred vision, weight loss, or skin, bladder, and other infections.

Causes

Mild obesity-related diabetes is caused by factors that lead to excess weight gain and obesity. These include:

  • Eating too many calories
  • Having unhealthy nutritional habits such as eating too many processed foods and sugar
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Eating in response to emotions
  • Not exercising or being physically active enough
  • Inheriting rare genetic conditions such as Prader-Willi syndrome
  • Having medical conditions such as thyroid issues
  • Taking medications that cause weight gain

Diagnosis

The first step in diagnosis of mild obesity-related diabetes is to determine if a person is affected by excess weight or obesity. This can be done by measuring the waist or calculating the BMI.

It is important to note that BMI is not a perfect way to determine if a person is overweight as it does not account for things like age or the weight of muscle vs. fat.

Next, a test for blood sugar levels called a glucose screening test, or glucose tolerance test, can be done to rule out other forms of type 2 diabetes.

Treatment

Treatment for mild obesity-related diabetes primarily involves weight loss. Healthy weight loss often includes lifestyle changes such as nutritious eating and regular physical activity.

For those who struggle to lose weight through diet and exercise, options for weight loss support vary depending on individual challenges. Challenges may include having underlying medical causes, stress, problems with sleep, and mental health issues.

Medical treatment options for weight loss may include medication, bariatric surgery, or use of weight loss devices.

Prognosis

It is possible to reverse type 2 diabetes and mild obesity-related diabetes with lifestyle and nutrition changes that promote weight loss.

Having excess weight or obesity can eventually lead to type 2 diabetes with insulin or blood sugar challenges, so it's important to make these lifestyle changes as soon as you can.

Coping

There are many lifestyle changes that can help you cope with weight gain, obesity, and mild weight-related diabetes. Adopting a sustainable, low-calorie diet, by choosing healthier, low-calorie foods that you enjoy is a good place to start. It can also help to begin or increase physical activity.

Additionally, it's important to consider the mental and emotional aspects of weight loss. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for weight loss and management can help with this.

Summary

Mild obesity-related diabetes is a type of diabetes mellitus that involves having excess weight or obesity without the insulin or blood sugar challenges that come with other types of diabetes. Symptoms include a high body mass index (BMI), a large waist size, joint pain, difficulty breathing or moving around, snoring, and other challenges related to excess weight.

Causes include poor dietary habits, lack of physical exercise, emotional or mental health issues, and medical challenges that lead to weight gain. By losing weight, people with mild obesity-related diabetes can reverse the condition and live healthy lives.

A Word From Verywell

Suspecting, being diagnosed with, and living with mild obesity-related diabetes can be challenging. If you or someone you know is experiencing this condition, help is available. Reach out to a healthcare professional such as a primary care practitioner for support. It is possible to lose weight, manage mild obesity-related diabetes, and live a healthy life.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How are obesity and type 2 diabetes linked?

    Being overweight or obese can lead to type 2 diabetes. This happens when the body is unable to effectively regulate blood sugar levels. The condition can be prevented and addressed through weight loss and healthy lifestyle changes such as better nutrition and physical activity.

  • How much does obesity increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes?

    People who are obese are about 6 times as likely to develop type 2 diabetes than people who are not overweight or obese. About 80%–85% of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese.

  • Can you prevent diabetes if you already have obesity?

    Being obese does not mean it is too late to prevent diabetes. People who are overweight or obese can make lifestyle changes to lose weight and reduce the risk of becoming diabetic.

16 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What is diabetes?

  2. Ahlqvist E, Prasad RB, Groop L. Prasad, Leif Groop; Subtypes of Type 2 Diabetes Determined From Clinical ParametersDiabetes 1 October 2020; 69 (10): 2086–2093. doi:10.2337/dbi20-0001

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.

  4. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Overweight and obesity.

  5. National Health Service. Obesity overview.

  6. National Health Services. Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).

  7. National Health Service. Obesity causes.

  8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Body mass index: considerations for practitioners.

  9. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Diabetes tests.

  10. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Losing weight.

  11. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Treatment for overweight and obesity.

  12. Hallberg SJ, Gershuni VM, Hazbun TL, Athinarayanan SJ. Reversing type 2 diabetes: a narrative review of the evidenceNutrients. 2019;11(4):766. doi:10.3390/nu11040766

  13. Klein S, Gastaldelli A, Yki-Järvinen H, Scherer PE. Why does obesity cause diabetes? Cell Metab. 2022;34(1):11-20. doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2021.12.012

  14. Dalle Grave R, Sartirana M, Calugi S. Personalized cognitive-behavioural therapy for obesity (Cbt-ob): theory, strategies and proceduresBioPsychoSocial Medicine. 2020;14(1):5. doi:10.1186/s13030-020-00177-9

  15. European Association for the Study of Diabetes: Diabetologia. Obesity is a critical risk factor for type 2 diabetes, regardless of genetics.

By Ashley Olivine, Ph.D., MPH
Dr. Ashley Olivine is a health psychologist and public health professional with over a decade of experience serving clients in the clinical setting and private practice. She has also researched a wide variety psychology and public health topics such as the management of health risk factors, chronic illness, maternal and child wellbeing, and child development.