The level of insulin after an overnight fast (basal) in 37 obese and nonobese male subjects with normal and abnormal carbohydrate tolerance was directly related to the increase in insulin concentration during a 3 hr 100 g oral glucose tolerance test. Obesity, but not diabetes, was associated with an elevation of this basal insulin level. Thus obesity predicted with the magnitude of the insulin response to glucose ingestion. When the individual insulin values were expressed as per cent change from the basal level, this effect of obesity was excluded. The insulin levels of all subjects with normal carbohydrate tolerance promptly rose 5-7-fold, and reached peak values 1 hr after oral glucose. In contrast, the diabetic response (as per cent increase) was markedly reduced during the 1st hr, and maximal (but still subnormal) insulin levels were not attained until 2 hr. In all subjects the insulin response (quantitated by calculation of the area circumscribed by a plot of the per cent change in insulin with time) showed a significant inverse correlation with the glucose response. Thus increasing degrees of carbohydrate intolerance were associated with decreasing insulin responses. Elevated levels of insulin, in both the basal state and in response to glucose, were related to obesity.
John D. Bagdade, Edwin L. Bierman, Daniel Porte Jr.