Obesity may not be the only risk factor for type 2 diabetes

Some people may be surprised to learn that their healthy-weight friends or family members have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, since the general consensus among medical professionals and non-experts is that many cases of the chronic illness are brought on by poor eating habits.

However, recent research has indicated that in some cases, sustaining a healthy lifestyle may not be enough to ward off type 2 diabetes. An article published by HealthDay News cites a study conducted by researchers at Stanford University, which showed that individuals with a certain inherited set of antibodies were more likely to become insulin resistant.

The researchers told the news provider that their findings indicate that a body's immune system may attack fat cells, causing an effect similar to that which occurs in obese people whose fat cells become inflamed due to an overabundance of the molecules. Both of these processes initiate insulin resistance and limit the cells' ability to process fatty acids.

Therefore, the scientists explained to the news source that individuals who do not have these malfunctioning antibodies that illicit immune responses to fat cells may be less likely to develop type 2 diabetes, even if they are obese.

"People with type 2 diabetes are often blamed for bringing the disease on, but it's a combination of genetic and physiological factors exposed to a certain environment," said David Kendall, MD, of the American Diabetes Association, quoted by the news organization.

Aside from maintaining a healthy weight, people who have type 2 diabetes may need to take medications for diabetes management. Individuals who have the chronic condition should have their hemoglobin A1c levels checked at least two times annually, according to the National Institutes of Health. These tests can indicate whether a diabetic diet or treatment regimen are effectively reducing blood sugar levels.

The organization notes that people with type 2 diabetes who lower their hemoglobin A1c scores by as little as 1 percent can reduce their risk of complications, such as death, stroke and heart attack by as much as 25 percent.