Are people with diabetes and obesity predisposed to stress?

Individuals with obesity and type 2 diabetes or prediabetes have insulin resistance so their bodies are unable to regulate blood sugar levels, but research suggests that these imbalances also mean that their emotional responses to negative stimuli are increased.

Previous studies have shown that people who live with type 2 diabetes and obesity are more predisposed to depression however it is now suggested that this is due to their insulin resistance.

A study was done in which they studied participants in different scenarios. In the first scenario, they studied the participants ‘startle response’ which is as an involuntary defensive reaction to a stimulus that is automatically perceived as potentially dangerous. The people with a more intense startle response than others tended to have diabetes.

The study next showed each participant a series of images with negative, positive, or neutral content, with the aim of triggering an emotional response. At the same time, they tested the subjects’ involuntary responses using an electroencephalogram (EEG), a test in which tiny electrical sensors are placed in key areas over the head and face to measure activity in the central nervous system. In doing so, the researchers evaluated how often each individual blinked or flinched when shown negative imagery.

“People with higher levels of insulin resistance were more startled by negative pictures,” says Willette, adding, “By extension, they may be more reactive to negative things in life.”

If people with prediabetes and diabetes are trying to reverse or treat the disease, stressful events may hinder their goals. Frequent negative reactions to stressful events can lead to a lower quality of life and create a vicious cycle that makes it difficult to be healthy, which is why it is extremely important that we fully understand the causes in order to minimise them.

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