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Why Diabetes Mellitus Can Cause Rapid Weight Loss Besides Obesity?

Updated on July 22, 2014
Weight loss and obesity are the two contrasting effects of the two major types of Diabetes Mellitus
Weight loss and obesity are the two contrasting effects of the two major types of Diabetes Mellitus | Source

Diabetes Mellitus (DM) is a disease when there is an increased and uncontrolled blood sugar level in the human body. We always thought that weight gain and obesity are the probable consequences of diabetes. When we see people in our society with a big fat belly and enormous fat tissues all around the body, we frequently associated the person with diabetes, cardiac and kidney diseases—which is potentially true. But when we see a petite person, with a very lean physique, it is very unlikely that we relate the person with diabetes. Most likely, we correlate the person having tuberculosis or anorexia.

There is a certain type of Diabetes Mellitus (DM) which causes rapid weight loss and decreased body's fat tissues without exerting extra efforts like exercise. With some thought, these could be great for those who want to slim down their body's figure; but then, having diabetes can cause much trouble than acquiring a petite body to look good.

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Let's Go First to the Essential Basic's of Diabetes Mellitus

The 3 " P's"

Though the existence of three "P's"—polydipsia (extreme thirst will result to increase water intake), polyphagia (excessive hunger will result to excessive food intake), polyuria (frequent urination will result to increase urine production)—which are signs and symptoms of DM common and visible in varying degrees, there are also remarkable signs and symptoms that are unique to each type of DM and produce different effects to the body's metabolism.

Opposing Function of Insulin and Glucagon

released in detected high blood glucose
released in detected low blood glucose
promotes conversion of glucose to glycogen in the liver and muscle tissues for sugar storage necessary for future use
promotes conversion of glycogen to glucose for energy use
stimulate synthesis of fats
stimulate fats degradation for an alternative source of energy
stimulate protein deposition
stimulate the breakdown of protein to glucose as an alternative use of energy

The Two Primary Hormone that Regulate Sugar Level

There are two principal hormones (with opposing functions) that regulate and control the blood glucose level.


Insulin is released when there is an increase in sugar level in the blood circulation, usually after food intake. The food that we eat will be digested in the stomach into simple sugar called glucose. Glucose will be absorbed in the intestines and circulate in the bloodstream. The increased glucose in the blood will trigger the pancreas to release insulin. This hormone will lower down the detected high level of blood glucose by binding to the insulin receptors in the body cells. The effect of the attachment will help the glucose to enter the muscle and the adipose tissue. Inside these cells the glucose will be used up to make energy to be used in different body's metabolism; the unused glucose will be stored as glycogen necessary for future use. Insulin is also essential in the regulation of glucose transport in the liver cells which will also be kept up as glycogen. These courses of action will bring balance to the blood stream and the surrounding tissue by promoting homeostasis.


On the other hand, glucagon is released in depleted blood glucose level during fasting state, starvation, or stress. When the pancreas sensed the lower glucose level in the blood, it will discharge glucagon. Glucagon will promote the conversion of stored fats from adipose tissue and glycogen in the liver and muscle tissue back to glucose to produce energy to sustain efficient body's metabolism.

Type I Diabetes Mellitus

Type I DM—which is also called Insulin-Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (IDDM)—shows indication of hyperglycemia (increased blood sugar level) due to the destruction of pancreatic cells. The destruction is caused by the autoimmune diseases, a condition where our own antibodies destroy our very own healthy cells. In this case, auto-antibodies do extreme damages to the cells of the pancreas which is the producer of insulin and glucagon.

Reasons behind Rapid Weight Loss and Decreased Fat Tissues

The destruction of pancreatic cells by the auto-antibodies will result to a very low secretion to an absolute non secretion of insulin. Without insulin the glucose will remain in the blood circulation and unable to transport glucose to different tissues with an outcome effect of hyperglycemia.

The absence of insulin will be detected by the body and consequently will release the glucagon to (1) stimulate liver's production of glucose which adds-up to the existing hyperglycemia; (2) and to increase glucose level by promoting the conversion of fats from adipose tissue and amino acids into glucose to make usable energy. These will promote weight loss due to decreased stored fats which are metabolized to produce energy in the absence of glucose inside the cells.

In the meanwhile, too much lysis of fats will generate a surge of blood and urine acidity or ketosis. Ketones result from the breakdown of fats. Type 1 DM is usually associated with diabetic ketoacidosis because of the increased breakdown of fats to compensate for lower or no glucose to create energy inside the cells.

Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus

Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus is also called Non-Insulin Dependent DM. In this condition there is a production of insulin by the pancreatic beta cells. Compared to type 1 DM in which there is a massive destruction of the beta cells of the pancreas and results to lower secretion or total non secretion of insulin, hyperglycemia caused by type 2 is due to the body's resistance to insulin produced. The insulin resistance is said to be due to the abnormality in the insulin receptors and glucose receptors in the body cells; too much consumption of fats in the diet can hinder and block the attachment of insulin and glucose in the body cells. Our own body cells resist the insulin thereby inhibiting the transport of glucose inside the cell to make energy necessary for body work.

Obesity | Source

Reasons behind Obesity

In Type 2 DM, the occurrence of hyperglycemia is appointed to the body's resistance to the generated insulin. At first, there is an enormous amount of insulin production by the pancreas. The pancreas will persist to release more insulin to compensate for hyperglycemia. In the long run, the pancreas will get exhausted and will gradually deteriorate producing lower amount of insulin unnecessary to provide glucose stability in the body.

Furthermore, since the body is able to detect the presence of insulin, glucagon will not be released which is responsible for lipolysis or degradation of fats; and the fats will remain unmetabolized as triglycerides. As a result, accumulation of fats will increase over time, with age, without exercise and with unhealthy lifestyle—constructing piles of fats embarked in the cells (primarily on the abdominal part)—resulting in obesity.

Coma, confusion and death can result from untreated Type 2 DM

Nonketotic hyperosmolar state is a condition when there is dehydration and excessive production of glucose in the absence of ketones . This condition is a complication from untreated Type 2 DM. The nonketotic state is due to the minimal to non degradation of fats in Type 2 DM.

Usually the excess glucose in the blood is eliminated in the kidney. But in some cases (like kidney damages, older age, or congestive heart failure) when there is insufficient water intake or severe dehydration, the overproduction of glucose outweighs the glucose elimination in the kidney. Thus, the glucose level and other substances like sodium will be concentrated in the blood producing hyperosmolarity affecting the brain. Not only coma, confusion or convulsion can result in this kind of condition, but the mortality rate is leveled up to 40%.

The treatment is an improvement of hydration; proper regulation of blood pressure; and monitoring of urine output. Fluids and intravenous potassium are given to counteract dehydration and hyperosmolarity caused by an increased salt build-up. Hyperglycemia is treated with injected insulin.

A. Blue circle is an awareness symbol for Diabetes B. Blurred Vision is one complication of Diabetes
A. Blue circle is an awareness symbol for Diabetes B. Blurred Vision is one complication of Diabetes | Source

For Diabetic Person

Though there is no cure yet, the primary and the most important shield you can have is to acquire proper and substantial information regarding the causes, symptoms, and treatment of diabetes. Facing the facts that the different complications will aggravate the existing condition could somehow encourage you to grab deeper understanding and knowledge of the disease. Counteracting the effects of diabetes could bring a longer quality of life.

You might never see the enemy but you must never be an enemy of yourself by being ignorant of your own disease. But what is much worst, though not ignorant but disregarding the information obtained.

Like any other diseases, the start of a cure doesn't commence from things, but it comes from within. You hold the key to your own cure. Have a happy life ahead!


Clinical chemistry: techniques, principles, correlation/Michael L. Bishop, Edward P. Fody, Larry E. Schoeff.-6th ed.

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    • annbathan profile image

      annbathan 3 years ago from Philippines

      Hi Nancy,

      Thank you for your comment.

    • nancynurse profile image

      Nancy McClintock 3 years ago from Southeast USA

      Great hub. Well written Good information Voted up. Thanks for sharing.