I was looking at diabetes the other day, and I noticed something strange. Lower amounts of lipase are a symptom of diabetes, as is overweightness. However, since lipase is the enzyme that breaks down fats, shouldn't a lack of it mean that less of it enters your blood stream and is simply excreted instead? In that case, how come diabetic people are often overweight?

This question has been bugging me for ages, does anyone know why?

  • $\begingroup$ I saw something recently on TV which suggested that being diabetic causes weight problems, rather than previously thought which was being overweight causes diabetes. $\endgroup$
    – rg255
    Commented Aug 14, 2013 at 7:22

3 Answers 3


How are diabetes and obesity connected in light of low lipase activity?
Short answer: There's more than one type of diabetes. (And to complicate things, there's also more than one type of lipase. It's unclear from the question which type were mentioned in what you read.)

Diabetes mellitus is usually divided into Type 1 (insulin-deficient) and Type 2 (insulin-resistant). Obesity is a risk factor for Type 2 diabetes, but not all diabetics are overweight. In fact, people with Type 1 are often lean.

Decreased lipase activity is not a major symptom of diabetes. However, these two articles suggest that plasma lipase activity may be lower in cases of Type 1 diabetes but not Type 2.
Junglee, D. et al., Low pancreatic lipase in insulin-dependent diabetics, 1983.
Dendona, P. et al., Exocrine pancreatic function in diabetes mellitus, 1984.


Source : Tortora and Derrickson Principles of anatomy and physiology

I read in the section on diabetes that " The breakdown of stored triglycerides causes weight loss". I assume that diabetic people are often overweight not simply because they have diabetes but because they also have many other disorders associated with it.

Please feel free to correct me !

  • $\begingroup$ Ok..Did the necessary changes. $\endgroup$
    – biogirl
    Commented Aug 21, 2013 at 16:36

People with type 1 Diabetes have a heritable defect in their genes. People with type 2 Diabetes eat too much. The prevalence of type 2 diabetes has increased by a factor of 2 since the 1970's. This means more patients for the endocrinologists and more insulin sales for the pharmaceutical companies.

  • $\begingroup$ I think @willam44ism is asking more about the enzymatic mechanism, and this answer doesn't really address his question. Also, are there citations for your argument? It seems likely that the risk factors for type 2 Diabetes are much more complex. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 20, 2013 at 3:58

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