Can skinny people get diabetes

Can skinny people get diabetes?

Are you skinny and worried about your risk of developing diabetes? Many people believe that only those who are overweight or obese are at risk for this common health condition, but the truth is that anyone can be at risk for diabetes.

In this article, we’ll explore the causes of diabetes and how skinny individuals can be at risk, as well as provide tips for preventing and managing the disease. Keep reading to learn more about the three types of diabetes and why body size doesn’t necessarily play a role in who can develop the condition.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes mellitus, commonly referred to as diabetes, is a health condition whereby the body:
can not produce any or enough insulin, use the insulin produced, or do both of them.

If any of these should happen, your body is unable to get sugar from your blood into the cells to be used as energy. This then leads to a build-up of high sugar levels in your blood.

The pancreas in your body produces insulin which enables your body to get the sugar from your blood into the cells to be used as energy.

From the definition so far, you can see that body size doesn’t play a much role in getting diabetes and that skinny people can get diabetes.

What are the types of diabetes?

There are 3 basic types of diabetes and I explain each of the types below;

Type 1 diabetes:

This type of diabetes is considered permanent. With Type 1 diabetes, your immune system mistakenly attacks the beta cells, which are responsible for producing insulin in the pancreas [source]. 

The cause of the autoimmune attack is not known yet [source].

Type 2 diabetes:

With this type of diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or your body are not effectively using the insulin being produced. This used to be the most common type of diabetes amongst the aged but now even younger ones are affected.

About 37 million Americans have diabetes and 90-95% of them have type 2 diabetes [source]

Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are forms of diabetes mellitus, which means they can lead to hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).

Gestational diabetes

This is a type of diabetes that occurs among pregnant women who are not already diabetic. To learn more about gestational diabetes, please follow the link below [source].

However, there’s also diabetes insipidus, which is a rare but serious condition. With this form of diabetes, the body produces too much urine. One would have to constantly drink enough water to replace what is being lost to the urine. If the lost water is not replaced, the situation could lead to dehydration and eventually death.

The cause of diabetes insipidus is related to an issue with how the body makes and uses antidiuretic hormone (ADH).

What causes diabetes?

The exact causes of diabetes are still not known. However, one is said to have diabetes when there’s high sugar in the bloodstream as a result of the inability of the pancreas to produce insulin and/or the body to effectively use insulin. This is also an indication that skinny people can get diabetes.

However, in some articles, it is said that Type 1 diabetes could be caused by genes and environmental factors whereas type 2 diabetes could be a result of some genes and lifestyle factors such as being physically inactive and overweight.

Can skinny people get diabetes?

Yes, skinny people can get diabetes. As discussed earlier, diabetes is a chronic condition in which the body is unable to properly regulate blood sugar levels. It can therefore affect people of all shapes and sizes, and being skinny does not necessarily protect against it.

Even though being skinny poses less of a risk of getting diabetes as compared to being overweight, it doesn’t rule out the fact that a skinny person with other risks like family history, sedentary lifestyle and the like can easily develop diabetes.

What are the early symptoms of diabetes?

Now, since the issue with diabetes is all about high sugar levels in the bloodstream and skinny people can also get diabetes, how would you know if you have diabetes?

Early signs of diabetes are so mild that you will not even notice you have it. Especially for type 2 diabetes, one may not even know he has diabetes until he is suffering from the long-term effects of the condition.

However, for type 1 diabetes, the symptoms are so severe and happen within a few days or weeks.

Early symptoms of diabetes

The early symptoms below are common to both type 1 and type 2 diabetes:

Blurred vision:
Since the level of fluids in your eyes changes, the lenses in your eyes get swelled up, change in size, and are unable to focus.

Hunger and fatigue:
When food gets into your body, it is converted to glucose which your cells use for energy. However, your body cells need insulin to take in the glucose. If your body is unable to produce enough or any insulin at all, or if your cells resist the insulin your body has produced, then the glucose can’t get into the cells and you will have no energy. This can make you more hungry and more tired than usual.

Peeing and urinating frequently:
Averagely, a healthy person pees between 4 to 7 times in every 24 hours but a diabetic would go more than that. This is because your body reabsorbs the sugar (glucose) as it passes through the kidney but with diabetes, the kidneys are unable to reabsorb the glucose, leading to more fluid production hence more urinating.

Now the more you urinate, the thirstier you become and once you drink more, the more you will have to pee and the cycle goes on.

Dry mouth and itchy skin:
As you are peeing a lot, there’s less or no moisture in your body for other mechanisms, therefore you get dehydrated. Once you are dehydrated, your mouth tends to dry up and dry skin can cause itchy skin.

Symptoms peculiar to type 1 diabetes

The symptoms peculiar to type 1 diabetes include:
Instant weight loss:
As your body is not able to get energy from your food, it will start to burn muscles and fat to use as energy. Even though you may be eating very well, you will still be losing weight.

Vomiting and nauseous:
As your body begins to burn fat, ketones are produced in your blood. At high levels, this is considered diabetic ketoacidosis. Ketones in your blood can make you vomit and also feel nauseous.

Symptoms peculiar to type 2 diabetes

Symptoms peculiar to type 2 diabetes include:
Yeast infection:
Any person with diabetes can easily get a yeast infection. Yeast feeds on sugar (glucose) and since with diabetes, you have a lot in your blood, yeast can easily grow and cause infection.

Slow healing of sores:
With diabetes, as you’ve already read, there’s an accumulation of sugar in your blood. Over time, this affects the flow of blood, causes nerve damage, and makes it difficult for your body to heal sores.

Nerve damage due to type 2 diabetes can equally cause numbness and pain in your feet or legs.

For gestational diabetes which is common in pregnant women, the known symptoms include urinating and drinking lots of water frequently. After delivery, everything goes back to normal unless of course some other complications are diagnosed by your doctor or midwife. To learn more about the symptoms of gestational diabetes, go ahead and give this a read.

What foods can cause diabetes?

Diabetes is known to be a result of eating too many sugary foods or beverages and sweeteners. 

To break this down, sugary beverages such as juice, soda, sweet tea, and sweeteners like honey, table sugar, and brown sugar can all cause diabetes. Fried foods, microwave popcorn, and partially hydrogenated oil can cause diabetes.

Too much of these foods in your body can cause a build-up of sugar in your blood. You can be naturally skinny but if you take in too many sugary beverages, sweeteners, and processed foods, there are chances of you getting diabetes.

What foods can reverse or prevent diabetes?

You have probably read about the foods that can cause diabetes and most of them might happen to be your everyday foods. And now you want to know what foods you can eat to prevent you from getting diabetes or to reverse it.

The best foods you can eat to prevent or reverse diabetes are those rich in fiber. Examples are tomatoes and fruits from trees. You can equally go in for vegetables such as cauliflower, spinach, and broccoli. These are good for the body.

It is good to reduce the number of sugary beverages, sweeteners, and processed foods even if you still have to include them in your meal.

How can I treat diabetes?

The natural way to treat your diabetes is to:

  1. Eat a well-balanced diet. Your meals should not always be all sugary.
  2. Try to exercise regularly in order not to be physically inactive and to help reduce weight if you are obese.
  3. Get enough good sleep 
  4. You should have frequent blood sugar tests just to keep track of your treatment.
  5. Try as much as people not to physically injure themselves so as to avoid more complications.

Generally maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help in tackling diabetes naturally. However, your doctor or health provider can recommend a few medications you can take to help treat your diabetes.

Why is weight a major factor causing diabetes?

There is a high chance of someone who is overweight or obese developing diabetes (especially type 2 diabetes) than someone who is skinny. Why? Because when you are overweight or obese, your cells tend to be more resistant to insulin. 

This resistance to insulin is a result of excess fatty acids in the liver or an accumulation of fatty acids in the liver. The link below gives the overweight-insulin resistance details you might be interested in Fatty Acids, Obesity, and Insulin Resistance: Time for a Reevaluation


Diabetes is a result of high sugar (glucose) in the blood because the body is unable to produce enough or any insulin or the body cells are not able to use the insulin effectively to convert the sugar to energy. 

Looking at the basis of diabetes, you can equally agree with me that skinny people can get diabetes. However, being overweight or obese is a risk factor in diabetes because you’ll have excess fatty acids in your liver which causes insulin resistance. 

Skinny people can get diabetes but an overweight or obese person has a higher chance of getting diabetes.

Thank you for reading, please share with others and if there’s anything you think I might have left out, you can kindly put that in the comment section.


Nashiratu Issah

Nashiratu Issah is a passionate mother, who loves to read and write. She enjoys sharing ideas with people. As part of her job as an Occupational health and safety officer, public education is one of her duties. Nashira loves new challenges and takes her time to analyse situations to come out with the best solutions.

She loves to cook and spends most of her time reading in order to get the right information so she can share with others. Her favourite sport is lawn tennis. Nashira has a Bachelor's degree in Bio Analysis and Quality Control. She obtained this degree (LST Bio Analyse et Contrôle de Qualité) at Université Hassan II, Faculté des Sciences and Techniques, Mohammedia- Morocco.

Her tertiary studies were done in the French language. She has had the chance to work at Laboratoire Officiel d'Analyses et de Recherches Chimiques in Casablanca - Morocco under the Department of Tea, and Spices. She has worked with the Ghana Food and drugs Authority in Tamale - Ghana and has worked as a Quality Control analyst with AVNASH Industries, Tamale- Ghana.

Nashira is currently a Senior Factories Inspector with the Department of Factories Inspectorate, Tamale-Ghana.

Dr. Ehoneah Obed is a registered pharmacist and a member of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana. He has a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and has experience working in a Tertiary hospital as well as various community pharmacies. He is also a software engineer interested in healthcare technologies.

His love for helping others motivates him to create content on an array of topics mostly relating to the health of people and also software engineering content.

He is knowledgeable in digital marketing, content marketing, and a host of other skills that make him versatile enough to uplift any team he joins.

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