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Who or what is the cause of developing diabetes?

Updated: Feb 10

Type 2 Diabetes - Is It My Fault?

The causes of type 2 diabetes development are an ongoing topic of discussion that can truly divide opinions, even among diabetics themselves. Here, I'll provide my perspective on this question, which certainly doesn't have just one answer.

There are many reasons why someone develops type 2 diabetes – medication-induced, such as cholesterol-lowering medication, gestational diabetes, bodily influences like stress, genetic factors, ethnicity, overweight, and inactivity. In my text, I'll focus only on the major triggers, namely overweight and inactivity, which are closely linked.

There's no doubt that genetics play a significant role in whether someone develops diabetes, but it's rare for genes to be the sole cause. A trigger is needed, and the biggest trigger is overweight and inactivity, whether we like it or not. The fact is, 85% of newly diagnosed diabetics are overweight, and the prevalence of obesity is rapidly increasing, just like the diabetes epidemic. These two trends almost closely follow each other, and genetic changes don't occur as rapidly as the diabetes epidemic does.

While 85% of diabetics are overweight, only 15% of overweight individuals develop diabetes, and why is that difference? I believe this is largely due to genetics. Many overweight individuals don't develop diabetes because they don't have it in their genes, and many diabetics develop the disease due to the combination of overweight and genetics. However, I recently read that some researchers believe that perhaps we all have some degree of diabetes in our genes, and therefore, everyone is at risk of developing the disease if triggered by something, but not necessarily the same thing.

I've never been severely overweight myself, but I've been moderately overweight for some years (still am to a lesser extent), with most of the extra weight accumulating around my abdomen/waist, indicating fat accumulation around the internal organs, especially the liver and pancreas. Fat in the liver develops insulin resistance in the same liver, which creates problems for sugar metabolism. I (probably) have diabetes in my genes, and the trigger/precipitator of the disease was undoubtedly overweight and the resulting fat accumulation around the internal organs. I've always been reasonably active, so this isn't the main cause, although I haven't been active enough when I became overweight.

So, is it my fault that I became overweight and therefore developed diabetes?

I actually don't believe it is - at least not entirely. I ate just like all my acquaintances and most of Denmark's population. I even ate, for the most part, as the official dietary guidelines recommended. One of the major culprits is that the industry began producing food. Pre- and ultra-processed foods and whole meals containing lots of sugar and other fast carbohydrates without real nutrition. Fructose is the worst type of sugar for the liver, as it can only be broken down in the liver and often converted and stored as fat in the same liver, and ultra-processed food contains lots of fructose. Take a look at the nutrition labels on most breakfast products, praised for being healthy. They all consist of 60-70% fast carbohydrates, of which 15-20% is sugar. It's far from healthy for both healthy individuals and diabetics.

So the biggest culprit in the diabetes epidemic is overweight, and the biggest culprit regarding overweight is the development society has undergone. The industry's poor food qualities, less movement in general, and the elimination of slightly harder work in most workplaces, schools' reduction of physical education classes, and young people's replacement of exercise in their free time with sedentary activities in front of screens - in other words, overweight and inactivity.

So is it our fault that we've developed type 2 diabetes?

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