Does eating too much sugar cause diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is a condition in which a person has a higher than normal blood sugar level. Separating fact from fiction will help you better understand diabetes, how to recognize its symptoms and even prevent it from occurring in some cases.

More than 30 million Americans have Type 2 diabetes and more than 84 million have prediabetes. It is one of the most common conditions in the United States.

“There are many common misperceptions about Type 2 diabetes, including the myth that eating too much sugar causes people to develop the condition,” said Erin Zepp, diabetes program coordinator for the Memorial Weight Loss & Wellness Center. “Although lifestyle choices do influence your risk of developing diabetes, it’s not directly caused by eating too much sugar.”

Type 2 diabetes is caused by a combination of genetics and lifestyle choices resulting in insulin resistance—meaning your body does not produce insulin as well as it should.

“Sugar is a high-calorie food, which contributes to weight gain and obesity,” Zepp said. “These are among the risk factors for developing diabetes. However, consuming sugar alone does not cause diabetes.”

What are some signs and symptoms of type II diabetes?

Symptoms of Type 2 diabetes include:

  • Thirst and frequent urination
  • Feeling hungry
  • Wounds that will not heal
  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Dark skin patches
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands and feet, known as neuropathy

Resources are available online to help you assess your risk. To learn more, visit Diabetes.org/Risk-Test.

Can I reduce my risk of diabetes?

If you have a family history of diabetes or have been diagnosed with prediabetes, you can make lifestyle changes to prevent diabetes.

“Maintaining a healthy weight and eating nutritious foods, as well as support from a medical professional, can help you to achieve this goal,” Zepp said.

Through diet, exercise and, in some cases, surgical intervention for weight loss, some people with diabetes can make lifestyle changes to reverse their condition. People who have previously been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes have been able to successfully stop taking insulin and medication after making lifestyle changes.

Ready to make a change?

Memorial Weight Loss & Wellness Center offers a diabetes management program approved by the Centers for Disease Control to help individuals at risk for type II diabetes.

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