General Question

erichw1504's avatar

How likely would it be for a skinny person to get diabetes?

Asked by erichw1504 (26398points) April 27th, 2010

If a person (with no family history of diabetes) was fairly skinny, but drank a lot of sugary soda and snacks, how likely would it be for him/her to get diabetes? How long would they have to be ingesting all that sugar to get it? How much sugar?

What other health risks are posed at thin people who take in a lot of sugar?

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36 Answers

aprilsimnel's avatar

Bret Michaels has diabetes, but I guess it’s Type 1. Type 2 has to do with the amount of glucose in your bloodstream, not how fat or skinny you are. Having under 100 milligrams of glucose per deciliter (mg/dl) is good; but above 126 is diabetes.

gemiwing's avatar

Eating sugar is only one way to become more prone to diabetes. Differing research, like it does, shows that you can eat all the sugar/normal sugar, and if you are genetically predisposed to develop diabetes you have a higher risk.

It’s not all about diet.

nailpolishfanatic's avatar

Diabetes has nothing to do with you being skinny or fat! Nick Jonas has diabetes:), so just enjoy your life

hug_of_war's avatar

Skinny does not equal healthy. Skinny people can and do get diabetes. My friend’s father has type 2 diabetes and he was never overweight but ate lots of foods high in sugar. Family history plays a role but if you spend a lifetime ingesting that kind of food you are greatly increasing your risk – diabetes is being diagnosed in younger and younger people in large amounts (and i’m talking about type 2).

erichw1504's avatar

Does anyone know the healthy amount of sugar to have per day? As in grams?

Taciturnu's avatar

The USDA recommends no more than 10% of your caloric intake come from sugar.

In a typical diet of 2,000 daily calories, that would amount to 200 calories, or 50 grams of sugar.

Thin people who take in a lot of sugar are at risk for diabetes and obesity. It is also likely that they are malnourished and are at greater risk for other ailments as a result. (Many people who over-consume sugar are not eating a balanced diet.)

erichw1504's avatar

Also, what is the difference between natural sugar (i.e. from fruit) and sugar you get from sodas and candy?

slick44's avatar

Does it run in your family? If so, you stand a greater risk.

Taciturnu's avatar

Sugar is sugar is sugar is sugar. Your body doesn’t look at a sugar molecule and say, “WOW! This came from fruit! Guess I won’t release any insulin!”

EDIT: That’s not to say that a glass of soda equal in sugar to a piece of fruit is equally as healthy.

Bluefreedom's avatar

In my case, very likely. I was diagnosed with Type II diabetes in 2006. Back then, and now, I weigh 147 pounds and am 6 feet tall. I’m very thin. I’ve never had a history of diabetes in my family and my endocrinologist says I don’t fit the profile for someone who should have diabetes. The only thing my doctors can figure in how I got diabetes is that I had such a terrible junk food diet, it caused my pancreas to quit working properly and me ending up with diabetes.

gemiwing's avatar

@Taciturnu HA! That was hilarious. I’m going to attribute that phrase to my pancreas from here on out

Sugar from fruit isn’t just sugar- if you eat the fruit you get fiber, protein (depending on fruit) and vitamins. Sugar just gets you sugar- and that includes most juices.

JLeslie's avatar

Carbohydrates become sugar basically in your body. The more complex the carb, like whole wheat as opposed to white bread, will digest more slowly, so the carbs are not released into the blood stream as quickly. 10% sugar does not mean that 10% of your diet should be carbs is enough. I am completely against a no or very low carb diet. Carbs feed the nervous system, and are a great source of energy. Carbs are stored as glycogen in your body, when those stores are full the excess goes to fat.

Fruit juice is basically sugar, I disagree with @gemiwing. Look at a container of orange juice, it is almost exactly the same sugars as Coca-cola. The whole fruit has fiber and you are not likely to eat four oranges, but easily can drink four. Apple juice is probably worse, never looked at it though.

I agree with people above that having a genetic predisposition to diabetes is a big factor. If someone is fat they are more likely to develop it, but thin people do not escape the possibility. I was always very thin, relatively muscular and strong when I was younger and my cholesterol was very high. I just have bad genes when it comes to cholesterol. Now, I weigh 20 pounds more and my cholesterol is exactly the same as it always was. 270 is if eat everything I want, 225 if I cut out egg yolks and sweets, I can get it lower if I cut out all cholesterol, whether I weigh 125 or 145 (the weight difference is about two dress sizes for me).

Honestly I think we were better of when we kept the four food groups in mind, back in the day. Not that it was perfect either. An emphasis of vegetables on your plate is the best thing in my opinion.

gemiwing's avatar

@JLeslie Actually I put juice in the category of ‘just sugar’. There’s nothing else in juice besides a few vitamins (which is up for debate since they are heavily processed at that point and the absorption of them could be slim).

JLeslie's avatar

@gemiwing Indeed you did. My mistake. I did not read your words well. Thanks for pointing it out.

gemiwing's avatar

@JLeslie Ain’t no thang. The only reason I responded is that I have an unhealthy level of hate for the juice industry and their pushing of ‘juice=vegetable’ propaganda. It kills me that people are out there chugging juice instead of eating food.

BhacSsylan's avatar

Just to say, coming from the biochemist, the phrase “sugar is just sugar” isn’t really true. There are many, many different forms of sugar (glucose, sucrose, fructose, maltose, ribose, galactose, etc etc etc.), each of which plays a different role in our body, and is metabolized differently. The research suggests that fruit tends to have a higher percentage of complex sugars that are digested slower and are used for more purposes in our body (and sugar is used for a huge number of things beyond energy, such as building blocks in some proteins). Sugar from highly manufactured sources, especially soda, tends to be less complex, metabolized quickly, increases our Blood-sugar levels easier (leading to diabetes) and more quickly converted to fat stores (contributing to obesity).

Now, I can’t say with certainty that this is precisely true, as the links between those sugars and metabolism isn’t the best understood at the moment. Metabolism is fiendishly complex. However, it is completely true that different sugars are metabolized and used differently, so sugar is not just sugar. However, you can make arguments that fructose, say, isn’t so bad. But that i can’t be sure of. I just know the research does suggest a causual link to complex sugars being better for you, and manufactured sugars being worse.

Now, that doesn’t mean that if you diet was only sugary fruits you would be okay. If you eat too much of any sugar you won’t be that good. But eating complex sugars, in moderation, is most likely much better for you (and to a degree necessary), while other sugars have less use in the body.

@Taciturnu also, you’d be surprised how correct that phrase is. Each sugar molecule is recognized by different proteins in the body, and so it doesn’t say “oh, this is from fruit!” But it does say “oh, this is sucrose” or “oh, this is galactose. I’m going to release different metabolites accordingly”. And different foods have different levels of these carbohydrates, and so each food will effect different changes in your metabolism.

Taciturnu's avatar

@BhacSsylan Naturally, and surely I see where you’re coming from. I won’t even try to compete with a biochemist.


I work in healthcare. I have never been let on to anything other than sugar is sugar when pertaining to diabetes. So for the sake of the question, I still have to stand by sugar is sugar.

Jeruba's avatar

I don’t know about likelihood, but I have certainly known skinny diabetics.

I am also bearing in mind that there are probably diabetics among my acquaintances who haven’t revealed their medical conditions to me.

BhacSsylan's avatar

As i said, the links right now aren’t great, and partially because the difference isn’t huge. And so in terms of just diabetes, there may not be the biggest of differences, but i think if you had one person who only got sugar from fruit, and another who got the same amount of sugar from soda, you’d see a major difference over time. I believe. Of course, sodas and juices do tend to have much higher amounts of sugar in the same volume, which doesn’t help anything.

I will admit that volume has a much higher effect then type, especially since volume can vary so wildly. But there are still differences in type.

Taciturnu's avatar

@BhacSsylan Like I mentioned earlier, people who eat a lot of sugar are less likely to eat balanced and healthfully. Just as you said, it takes more complex carbs than refined sugar in the same quantity to up someone’s glucose. You’re absolutely right that there would be a big difference over time.

Our areas of expertise may overlap, but are far from similar. It’s funny how some things are so close and yet so far, don’t you think? :)

YARNLADY's avatar

I thought diabetes was caused by the failure of the body to produce or process insulin properly. I don’t think it has so much to do with eating too much sugar, but rather with the inability to convert glucose to glycogin.

BhacSsylan's avatar

@YARNLADY It depends on the type. Type one involves the body’s inability to produce Insulin, as the result of an autoimmune response, i believe. Type 2 actually doesn’t necessarily come from a loss of insulin creation, but rather a desensitization of your body’s cells to insulin, and is linked to sugar ingestion. As you eat more sugar, your body needs to create more insulin to metabolize it. And as you produce more insulin, your body becomes more used to those levels, and so it needs more, etc. The same with almost any drug. Eventually, the levels get so bad that your body loses it’s ability to respond properly to insulin, and your blood sugar starts fluctuating, and you have diabetes.

Now, i did all that without looking it up, since I’m pressed for time, so if I’m wrong, @Taciturnu, please correct me. You’d probably have a better working knowledge of it. But I think I’m close, at least.

@Taciturnu Yes, the issue is really complex, the reason I qualified most of what I said with “I believe”. But, yeah. It is intriguing. They’re so dependent on one another, but the scales are so different, it becomes hard to translate the two sometimes. Which is a shame, because our two disciplines rely so heavily on each other.

Taciturnu's avatar

@BhacSsylan Yup, I think that’s a pretty good answer!

evandad's avatar

I have known many skinny diabetics.

YARNLADY's avatar

@BhacSsylan—thank you for that explanation. I read the wikipedia entry, and it was too complicated for me to follow. I apparently have the Type 1. I’m going to ask my doctor about it next time I go in.

JLeslie's avatar

@YARNLADY You have diabetes and you don’t know which type?

mattbrowne's avatar

Type 1 is not correlated with weight. And a minority of type 2 are not overweight as well.

YARNLADY's avatar

@JLeslie I don’t really even believe that I have it, but the tests showed what my doctor calls “pre-diabetes” and they made me take a long glucose tolerance test. From what I understand and as @mattbrowne says, weight has a lot to do with it. I went through a whole thing when I was 25 and I was really scared, but after I lost 35 pounds, it all went away until a few years ago, and I am now (age 67) overweight by about 50 pounds.

JLeslie's avatar

@YARNLADY Oh. Probably it depends on the day they test you I bet. I would say best to not overdue the sugar and lose some weight, but probably you already know that.

YARNLADY's avatar

@JLeslie I’m lucky I don’t especially like sugary things. I don’t drink more than three glasses of soda a week, and usually less, donuts, cakes, and candy are not appealing to me. I need to walk more, and I’m trying to force myself.

JLeslie's avatar

@YARNLADY All carbs count don’t forget.

Moegitto's avatar

When I was newly diagnosed, there were skinny people with type 2 all around the hospital. And to add to the sugar is sugar debate, sugar comes in it’s own respective food groups, which then go into a kind of “how hard is it to breakdown” group. We all know what fructose is, and this is a natural sugar making it easier for your body to dispel it. Then comes Lactose, which is around (dont quote me) 70% natural because of the pasturization process most companies use. Then comes the enemy of today’s mammals, Glucose, which is almost pure sugar, and also really hard for your body to expel. I had to learn the hard way about those types because by doing “sugar” counting instead of “carb” counting my blood sugar would always fall into the low 30’s.

JLeslie's avatar

@Moegitto Doesn’t what you wrote about fructose go against current thinking about HFCS? I actually don’t believe drinking sugar water is any different than drinking HFCS water (although I do think complex carbs is very different in rate of sugar absorption from refined sugars and carbs). I also think chemicals used in refinement processes are most lily very bad for us, but that is a different topic. Still, I am interested in your answer to my first question.

Pandora's avatar

I don’t know. But I have known, plenty of skinny diabetics.

mattbrowne's avatar

Being skinny is not the cause of type 1 diabetes. But undetected type 1 diabetes is the cause of people becoming skinny and thirsty.

Badly managed known type 1 diabetes can lead to both skinniness (not enough insulin) and weight gain (too much insulin).

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