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If you are overweight, losing some weight is one of the most important things you can do to treat your diabetes.

Weight loss, especially from around the tummy area, lowers your

  • blood glucose
  • blood pressure
  • cholesterol

Benefits of weight loss

If you are overweight the first goal may be to avoid gaining more weight and to improve your fitness level. This will have a positive effect on your overall health and diabetes.

A weight loss of 5% to 10% brings a lot of positive health benefits for diabetes. For example, a 100 kg (15st 10lbs) person losing 5kg (11lbs) is a loss of 5%.

Newly diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes

If you are newly diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, losing excess body weight may be able to put diabetes into remission or out of the Type 2 diabetes stage. It may help delay or reduce your need for diabetes medicines.

Studies have shown that the more weight lost the better chances you have of putting diabetes into remission or out of the Type 2 diabetes stage. The best results were seen with a weight loss of 15kg (2st 5lbs), however remember losing any excess weight is helpful. Consider starting with a weight loss goal of 5%.

You will still be at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and it may return at a later date. This is particularly true if your weight goes back up and your healthy diet and activity habits are not maintained.

Already have diabetes

If you have diabetes for some time, losing excess body weight will help improve your blood glucose levels and it may reduce your need for medicines.

Check if you're overweight

Check your BMI

By working out your body mass index (BMI) you can tell if you are overweight for your height.

A BMI of:

  • 18.5 to 24.9 means your weight is healthy for your height
  • 25 to 29.9 means your weight is overweight for your height
  • 30 or over means your weight is an unhealthy weight for your height (obese)

Even though your BMI reading may be only slightly overweight, this extra body weight (fat) could be contributing to your diabetes. For people who have a lot of muscle mass, BMI may not be a good indicator of body fat.

Use the BMI calculator on the Safe Food website

Check your waist size

It is important to know if you are carrying any excess weight around the tummy area, even if your BMI is not too high.

Carrying a lot of weight (body fat) around your tummy can affect the way some organs work and greatly increases your risk of developing diabetes. These organs are your pancreas and liver.

Measure your waist size to check your risk

Your risk of developing health problems such as diabetes increases if:

  • you are a man and your waist size is 94 cm (37 inches) or more. If you are a man of Asian descent and your waist size is 90 cm (35 inches)
  • you are a woman and your waist size is 80 cm (31.5 inches) or more

Your waist size can be a warning to consider losing some weight to improve your health.

If you are overweight

  • Try to avoid gaining any more weight.
  • Look at what changes you could make to your diet - consider writing down what you eat and drink for a day or two to help identify possible changes you could make.
  • Consider weighing yourself once a week to help keep you focused and monitor your progress. A good time is first thing in the morning, with no shoes and in light or no clothing.
  • Be more active and sit less - being active at any weight brings major benefits.
  • Complete a free diabetes support course to learn how to lose weight in a healthy way.
  • Once you lose weight, keeping it off is the key.

Download our leaflet on Healthy Food for Life (PDF, 6.5MB, 7 pages) which includes top tips for overweight adults to get to a healthy weight.

For advice and support, visit the Safe Food website and the RTE operation transformation website

page last reviewed: 22/10/2020
next review due: 22/10/2023

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