Belly Fat and Diabetes: Is there a relationship

The number of cases of diabetes is steadily increasing over the past years. This has been directly linked to obesity. An interesting fact the direct link between diabetes belly fat. Although many obese people may have increased belly fat, there are those who are not obese yet have belly fat.

About half of the people living with diabetes do not even know that they have diabetes. This is so worrisome when one thinks of the effects that this disease does the human body.

What is belly fat

Belly fat simply means excess fat around the organs of your stomach. It is also known as visceral fat or intra-abdominal fat (it is found around organs like the liver, intestines and other organs). It is considered to be the most dangerous type of fat. Unlike fat found on the hips and thighs, fat around the body’s organs can pose a lot of serious health risks. It should be distinguished from other types of body fats like subcutaneous fats and triglycerides.

Belly fat is determined by measuring what is called waist circumference. This is typically at the natural waist, around the level of the umbilicus (belly button). Take a measuring tape and just wrap it around your waist area. The tape should not be too tight or too loose. Measure the waist just after you breathe out. Waist circumference of >94 cm in men and >80 cm in women is associated with increased risk of health related complications and the risk increases with a waist circumference of >102cm in men and > 88 cm in women.

How is belly fat linked to Diabetes

One of the dangers that belly fat poses is its link to type 2 diabetes in particular. When you have increased belly fat, you are more prone to having insulin resistance, which usually leads to glucose intolerance and type 2 diabetes.

A certain protein that is released by the visceral fat has been shown to increase this resistance to insulin. When the body becomes resistance to insulin, more and more glucose build up in the blood resulting in hyperglycemia which in turn results in diabetes mellitus. Insulin resistance and belly fat are thought to account for the twofold increase incidences of type 2 diabetes.

Other diseases linked to belly fat

Belly fat is liked to other diseases like cardiovascular diseases and colo-rectal cancer.

People with increased belly fat are thought to have more than doubled the risk of getting cardiovascular diseases. This risk is even more increased when other risk factors such as high blood pressure, are present.

Some cancers are also linked with increase visceral fat. These cancers include breast cancer and colo-rectal cancer.

How to get rid of belly fat

There are many factors associated with increased belly fat. Some factors are modifiable and some are not. Examples of non-modifiable factors are genetics, gender and age. You can’t change your genes, your sexual orientation or your age but you can sure do something about the other factors that are modifiable.

Eat right

Diet is an important aspect in keeping belly fat off and maintaining a healthy body weight. It is recommended that you follow a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, high fiber, and high lean protein. Reduce you intake of processed foods, added sugars and reduce trans-fats. Get into the habit of reading ingredient labels to stay away from products that may not be good for your body.

Drink in moderation

Too much alcohol has been strongly linked to belly fat. It promotes your appetite as well as adding more calories. It is more importantly linked to fat re-distribution in the body.


Exercise helps us lose body fat and gain muscle. This in turn helps us lose belly fat. 30 minutes of moderate activity (for example brisk walking) for 5 days in a week is quite beneficial if done consistently. Maintaining exercise also helps prevent belly fat from coming back.

Stop smoking

Smoking does not only increase your fat stores but is also puts at risk of many other diseases.

Enough rest

Too much rest is not good but too little can be harmful too

Avoid stress

Too much stress has been linked to high levels of the stress hormone called cortisol. Cortisol increases your appetite with resultant buildup of fat especially on the belly. Engaging in relaxing, or pleasurable activities can help reduce your belly fat.

Your health Matters

In conclusion, I just want to say, your health matters a lot. There is a saying that goes- My health is my wealth. This is indeed true. With the current significant rise in type 2 diabetes, it is very critical to have some knowledge on this topic. Knowledge is important but action is even better. Take care for your health like you would for important things in your life. It is indeed your wealth. Without a health well taken care of body, quality of life is greatly compromised. All the best as you take a step in improving your health for the better.


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30 thoughts on “Belly Fat and Diabetes: Is there a relationship

  1. This is a great question that I didn’t even find myself asking before I read this article. I really appreciate this valuable information, because I myself know people who suffer with diabetes And they tend to be overweight. But there have been some of those people that I have noticed who have diabetes and are not overweight. This is always been an interesting observation for me

  2. Since my new year’s resolutions, I have been asking myself this question: how does a diabetic get rid of belly fat?

    So I would like to share what I’ve learned. Only exercise alone or exercise plus dieting reduces visceral fat. The researchers say their study demonstrates the importance of exercise in reducing visceral fat in the treatment of women with type 2 diabetes.

    1. Hello Abel

      It is indeed true that exercise and diet will reduce belly fat. However, if you eat right and exercise but continue to binge drink and smoke they effect may be very little. All these factors work together. Thank you so much for going through the post

  3. Hello. I know a lot people with diabetes, and I can say that some of them are good at sport and don’t have belly fat and some of them are not physical active, they are obese and they have a lot of fat. The fat around the organs are bard, they often can cause a lot of disease. Diabetes and belly fat had they connection, because if you obese, your pancreas has to provide more insulin to neutral you sugar level. I like the ways how you describe connection between those two.

    1. Hello Pavlov

      You are very right, some people do have diabetes yet are very good in sport and exercise a lot. It is important to note that there are other factors that may influence you to be diabetic. Factors like genetic do play an important role. But modifiable risk factors do accelerate the process if you have diabetes genes It is therefore important to take into account these factors and do something about them. Thank you

  4. There definitely is a correlation between type 2 diabetes and belly fat. For type 1 diabetes, you can still be slim and get the disease because it is autoimmune in nature and not directly connected to your food choices. My sister was a skinny little 3-year-old when she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Another cause of diabetes is insulin resistance caused by blood sugar spikes. Consuming too much glucose can lead to storing belly fat. It also leads to diabetes. 

    1. Hello Melinda

      Thank you very much for such a wonderful comment. Yes diabetes type-1 is an auto immune disease and has nothing to do with lifestyle. Type -2 diabetes on the other hand is the one directly linked to belly fat

  5. Thank you, this article makes me think quite hard. Since the pandemic began and I started to work from home, my weight has increased quite dramatically and now I have belly fat. I’m afraid that it may be caused some serious illness like diabetes, so I will take some serious efforts to reduce it. However, I want to ask if I need to do all of the recommendations above? My diet is good, but I really lack exercise and enough sleeping hours. Can my belly fat reduce after fixing this habit?

    1. Hello Alblue. 

      Yes you have to start moving. Your belly fat is definitely a result of a sedentary lifestyle. Once you start exercising you will realize that it slowly goes away and the weight also reduces. Kindly bear in mind that too much alcohol and smoking also play a big role

  6. Hello,

    This is a very informative post. I found out some things that I never knew. So thank you for that. I have a few questions to ask you about your article. I have a family member that has became obese according to the doctor.  They are telling them that they are borderline diabetic. What can they do to help themselves from crossing over into diabetes?  Are there any special tricks to use to not become diabetic?  How can diabetics regulate their sugar without poking themselves everyday? I like this article very much. I probably needed to read this article a long time ago, so thank you for this content.


    1. Hello Niesha

      Thank you very much for going through this article. I believe your family member needs help in reversing the borderline diabetes. I have the right article already published for her on my website. It is entitled ‘ What Prediabetes Means’. It has all the answers to your questions.

      Thank you very much as you go through the article.

  7. I personally feel the belly fat is more to do with an unhealthy lifestyle. Some of the factors you highlighted like stress, eating processed food are very common. Belly fat is also related to irregular sleep, working too much, eating at the wrong time, etc. Lack of physical activity such as walking, cycling can be an added favor to belly fat.

    To avoid getting belly fat is to get back to the old habits of living your life. Waking up early, walking, or cycling, healthy eating, enjoying work, and giving time to yourself and your family will bring back fitness and perfect health.

    Measuring belly fat is something that I want to check personally. It’s an interesting method to keep your diet in check and track diabetes.

    1. Hello Arif

      I totally agree with you. Belly fat is caused by all those factors that you have mentioned. Changing your lifestyle for the better has so many added advantages. Thank you so much for going through this article

  8. Both of my grandmas had/have diabetes while also suffering from obesity. I noticed how much it effected their day to day life early one. I didn’t really know much about why until now though. I had no idea that belly fat had a direct effect on diabetes. The effects belly fat has on insulin is by far in a way a problem. Now I understand why it was so much harder for them to regulate their insulin compared to my friend who was diabetic as well. Thank you for the information!

    1. Hello Omer

      Thank you very much for going through the article. I hope you also take the right steps to avoid belly fat hence reduce a lot of it’s health related problems.

  9. Great article you have here and thank you for sharing such an informative article. Health is truly wealth, cause if you don’t keep yourself healthy, life is pretty much meaningless when you are ill. It’s good knowing about the different diseases associated with diabetes and the different methods of getting rid of belly fats.

  10. I gained belly fat after giving birth. Thanks for all this helpful information and tips on how to get rid of belly fat. I agree with everything written, and the biggest effect is definitely a healthy diet and regular exercise.
    During pregnancy, I had pregnancy diabetes, which I no longer had after giving birth, but I still occasionally measure my blood sugar preventively.
    Friendly greeting,

    1. Hello Nina

      Yes, belly fat is quiet common after pregnancy and heathy diet and regular exercise does help in the long run. All the best as you start your journey towards losing belly fat. 

  11. Awesome article. I don’t smoke though but never thought for a second that smoking promotes belly fat. It’s quite interesting to know about this. Honestly, this is a serious subject that we shouldn’t take likely. Building up fat in your belly is the worst place ever because of some important organs in that region.

    Now when you made mention of non-modifiable factors of belly fat and gave examples like genetics. Does it mean that belly fat is inherited? If so, Does it also mean that people with belly fat genetics are very prone to diabetics?

    1. Hello Leon

      Thank you very much for going through the article and for the wonderful comments. Yes some people are more prone to belly fat than others and this is related to their genes. Whether you are more prone to belly fat because of your genes or not, belly fat will increase your likelihood to get type-2 diabetes. I hope this answers your question. Thank you

  12. Good points raised about getting rid of belly fat.

    We need to take good care of our bodies health in this age Covid-19 pandemic, when the tests have shown that people who have chronic ailments like diabetes are at risk of narrow expectations of discovery if they are infected with the virus.
    It is often very hard to get off of the vehicle and ride the bicycle or just take a walk in the neighborhood in order to exercise and work on the belly fat.
    We have been warned by medical experts that excessive use of alcohol, fatty foods and smoking is detrimental to healthy living but we still we can not find a good way to heed the call.

    Yes! Lots possessions and money is not true wealth but you are wealthy when you are healthy!!

    1. Hello Hendrick
      What you are saying is indeed true. In this era of the Covid 19 pandemic, many people live a sedentary lifestyle. We are forever in our homes as most of us are even working from home. We are even more stressed and stress does play a role.
      It is therefore very important to always keep your health in check as we look forward to winning this disease.

  13. Thank you so much for this article! My father was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes a few years ago and he definitely has an excess of belly fat. I do not want to go down the same road as him, so I will be following many of these tips. It’s too easy in this time of a pandemic to sit too much and not get exercise, but this article reinforced how important that is, even if it’s just a quick walk every day!

    1. Hello Christine
      You are very right. During this pandemic, it is very easy to put in some kilos because of the current restrictions. I am glad you have taken a decision to take care of your health. All the best as you do that.

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