Why do people with diabetes become increasingly thin?

Why do diabetic patients become increasingly thin? Emaciation is one of the typical symptoms of diabetes. Some diabetic patients may have normal or increased appetite, but their weight decreases instead. Many people do not understand that obesity is one of the causes of diabetes. So, why do diabetic patients become increasingly thin? Let’s take a look at the explanation below.

Mechanism of emaciation in diabetic patients:

Diabetes is a disease caused by a series of metabolic disorders due to insulin deficiency caused by pancreatic dysfunction or insulin resistance. Firstly, due to the lack of insulin, more glucose cannot enter the cells for oxidation, causing an increase in blood glucose concentration, i.e. hyperglycemia. At the same time, hyperglycemia also has a high osmotic diuretic effect, causing diabetic patients to urinate more frequently. Then, due to the high urine output and obvious dehydration, the body loses water, stimulates the thirst center, and leads to polydipsia.

As a result, the body cannot get enough water, and with high blood sugar, the acceleration of fat and protein breakdown to replenish energy and heat cannot occur, causing the consumption of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in the body, leading to slow emaciation and decreased resistance. In severe cases, weight loss can be several tens of pounds, resulting in fatigue, weakness, and depression. The longer the disease course, the higher the blood sugar level, and the more obvious the emaciation becomes.

Why do diabetes patients become thinner?


  • Low-protein diet

The body needs the correct amount of protein, and the intake of the correct amount of protein is important for the body’s health and comfort. Long-term low-protein diets can lead to malnutrition and various complications. In order to maintain the body’s muscle, tissue repair, various enzymes, blood cells, and other metabolic needs and disease resistance, everyone must ensure sufficient dietary protein intake.

  • Poor blood sugar control

Especially seen in patients with long-term self-immune diabetes and type 2 diabetes. This is because the patient’s body does not have enough insulin to fully utilize the glucose in the blood. The body always needs energy, and if it cannot use glucose, it will only consume fat, which causes sudden thinning.

  • Drug-induced wasting

This type of wasting is often caused by taking some drugs that enhance the body’s metabolism, such as dinitrophenol and thyroid hormones.

  • Gastrointestinal system diseases

Gastrointestinal diseases such as chronic gastritis, digestive ulcers, chronic non-specific colitis, or gastroparesis patients can cause poor eating, digestion and absorption functions, leading to malnutrition and thinness.

  • Hyperthyroidism

This is an endocrine disease. Due to the increase in body metabolism, it manifests as increased appetite, but too many nutrients are decomposed in the body, which greatly consumes the body’s fat and protein, causing weight loss, and sometimes can drop by as much as 10 kilograms in a short time. If there are no obvious other causes of wasting disease, this disease is most likely. Symptoms include increased appetite, thinness, rapid heartbeat, sweating, enlarged thyroid in the neck, tremors, and excitement. A small number of patients have no or only mild thyroid enlargement or no expression of “thyrotoxicosis”, but the diagnosis can be made through laboratory tests.

  • Adrenal cortex dysfunction

Some diabetes patients only have thinness in the early stage, which can be seen in primary adrenal dysfunction, such as adrenal tuberculosis or autoimmune adrenal disease, and later gradually develop typical symptoms and signs such as skin and mucosal pigmentation. Pituitary dysfunction leads to secondary adrenal dysfunction and pale skin.

  • Chronic infectious diseases such as old tuberculosis and chronic liver diseases

Diabetes leads to a decrease in the body’s immunity and can be combined with many chronic infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis. Due to the strong decomposition and metabolism of the body, weakened digestive and absorption functions, and secondary infections, excessive consumption of nutrients in the body leads to significant weight loss. Patients with liver cirrhosis, liver ascites and other liver diseases will inevitably cause a decrease in human synthesis and metabolism, and people will also become thinner in a few days. Another hallmark of liver cirrhosis is that in addition to weight loss, there are also symptoms such as fatigue, diarrhea, etc.

  • Malignant tumors

Diabetes is prone to various tumors. Sometimes high blood sugar is an early indicator of pancreatic cancer. Most malignant tumors will have the characteristics of thinness first. Therefore, those who were not thin before but have recently become significantly thinner should be vigilant. For example, pancreatic cancer, which is mainly manifested as vague upper abdominal pain, is often mistaken for stomach disease. The prominent symptom of this disease is significant weight loss, and even a weight loss of more than 10 kilograms can occur within a month. For colon cancer, there may be painless bloody stool, and people over 50 years old should be alert.

Is weight loss good or bad for diabetes patients?

Actually, it is a good thing for type 2 diabetes patients. In addition to maintaining normal blood sugar, blood pressure, and blood lipids, weight loss to achieve ideal weight is also a treatment goal for type 2 diabetes. This is because one of the causes of type 2 diabetes is the insulin resistance caused by the secretion of cytokines produced by increased abdominal fat. If weight loss, especially a reduction in abdominal fat, can reduce insulin resistance, it will be beneficial to the patient.


What should diabetes patients do if they are skinny? Expert’s good way to gain weight:

For skinny diabetes patients, special attention should be paid to dietary adjustments and dietary therapy to change the condition.

Appropriately relax the intake of calories

Since the weight of skinny diabetes patients is lower than the standard weight, their energy intake can be appropriately relaxed to achieve the standard weight level.

  • Increase the intake of high-quality protein

As an important component of human tissue, protein is the first of the seven major nutrients. Skinny diabetes patients can increase their weight by increasing the intake of high-quality protein. Dairy products, meat, and soy products are all good choices. Healthy ingredients such as milk, beef, chicken, lean pork, fish, shrimp, and tofu can all be used to supplement protein. Generally, the daily energy intake can be given according to 30-35 kcal/kg body weight, and protein can be given according to the ratio of 1.2-1.5 g/kg body weight.

  • Insist on eating small meals often

Eating small meals often is an important rule in the dietary treatment of diabetes patients, and it is also applicable to skinny diabetes patients. It can make the intake of nutrients more balanced, facilitate food digestion and absorption, and better provide energy and nutrients for the body.

  • Ensure carbohydrate intake

Carbohydrates are the main source of human energy. Generally, 55%-60% of the body’s daily energy needs come from staple foods such as rice, noodles, buckwheat, millet, and corn.

  • Ensure balanced nutrient intake

The correct principle of diabetes diet is to ensure the reasonable combination of carbohydrates, protein, and fat to meet the body’s needs. Among them, carbohydrates account for about 55%-60%, fat accounts for about 25%-30%, and protein accounts for about 15%-20%. Generally, the daily calorie intake for adult male patients is 1200 kcal-1600 kcal, and for adult female patients, it is 1000 kcal-1200 kcal. Eat more whole grains, fresh vegetables, and fruits, and less fried foods, convenience foods, and fast food.

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