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Insulin and Weight Gain

Some people with type 2 diabetes find that insulin gives them better control of their glucose levels than oral medications. However, insulin can cause slight weight gain—which can present a problem for people with type 2 diabetes. Gillian Arathuzik, R.D., L.D.N., and Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) at Joslin, talks to us about this problem.

The Weight Loss Challenge

When people with diabetes first start taking insulin, they gain weight because glucose is finally getting into the cells in the body where it's desperately needed. At first, weight gain with insulin is a sign that diabetes is getting under control. But because insulin is also a growth hormone, points out Arathuzik, it promotes the storage of essential nutrients, including fats. This can be problematic for people with type 2 diabetes, for whom weight loss is often a goal.

Getting Adjusted

The side effect of weight gain from insulin treatment can be troublesome, but it's no reason to abandon the treatment option. "It a challenge to lose weight when taking insulin but certainly not impossible," states Arathuzik. However, it's crucial to receive proper education and guidance from a dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator.

"By changing diet, exercising and losing weight, you can make your body more insulin sensitive. Then you can reduce your dose of insulin and possibly get off it altogether." At Joslin, people with type 2 diabetes can make a smooth transition to insulin treatment if it offers them better control of glucose. Patients work with educators such as Arathuzik to find both lose weight, and prevent complications through insulin treatment.

Click here for more information about insulin. To arrange a time to talk to one of Joslin's Certified Diabetes Educators, please click here.

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Page last updated: September 20, 2019