Insulin resistance and insulin hypersecretion are established features of obesity. Their prevalence, however, has only been inferred from plasma insulin concentrations. We measured insulin sensitivity (as the whole-body insulin-mediated glucose uptake) and fasting posthepatic insulin delivery rate (IDR) with the use of the euglycemic insulin clamp technique in a large group of obese subjects in the database of the European Group for the Study of Insulin Resistance (1,146 nondiabetic, normotensive Caucasian men and women aged 18-85 yr, with a body mass index (BMI) ranging from 15 to 55 kg.m-2). Insulin resistance, defined as the lowest decile of insulin sensitivity in the lean subgroup (608 subjects with a mean BMI of 29 kg.m-2). Insulin sensitivity declined linearly with BMI at an age- and sex-adjusted rate of 1.2 micromol.min-1.kg FFM-1 per BMI unit (95% confidence intervals = 1.0-1.4). Insulin hypersecretion, defined as the upper decile of IDR, was significantly (P<0.0001) more prevalent (38%) than insulin resistance in the obese group. In the whole dataset, IDR rose as a function of both BMI and insulin resistance in a nonlinear fashion. Neither the waist circumference nor the waist-to-hip ratio, indices of body fat distribution, was related to insulin sensitivity after adjustment for age, gender, and BMI; both, however, were positively associated (P<0.001) with insulin hypersecretion, particularly in women. In nondiabetic, normotensive obese subjects, the prevalence of insulin resistance is relatively low, and is exceeded by the prevalence of insulin hypersecretion, particularly in women with central obesity. In the obese with preserved insulin sensitivity, risk for diabetes, cardiovascular risk, and response to treatment may be different than in insulin resistant obesity.


Ele Ferrannini, Andrea Natali, Patrick Bell, Paolo Cavallo-Perin, Nebojsa Lalic, Gertrude Mingrone


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