Central adiposity and its metabolic correlates in obese adolescent girls

S. Caprio, L. D. Hyman, C. Limb, S. McCarthy, R. Lange, R. S. Sherwin, G. Shulman, W. V. Tamborlane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To establish whether alterations in insulin action and secretion and their relationship to body fat distribution occur early in the course of developing obesity, we studied 14 obese adolescent girls [13.2 ± 0.7 yr, body mass index (BMI) 32 ± 1.4], 16 nonobese adolescent girls (12.5 ± 0.6 yr, BMI 21.0 ± 0.8), and 14 nonobese young women (24.0 ± 0.6 yr, BMI 21.0 ± 0.9). Insulin action was assessed by a sequential two-step (8 and 40 mU · m-2 · min-1) euglycemic insulin clamp in combination with [1-13C]glucose and indirect calorimetry. Insulin secretion was determined by the hyperglycemic clamp technique (6.9 mmol/l). Magnetic resonance imaging was used to quantify visceral and subcutaneous abdominal fat depots. In obese girls, an impairment in glucose disposal was present with both insulin doses; at the higher dose, rates of glucose uptake were reduced by 30% in nonobese girls (240 ± 30 vs. 340 ± 19 mg · m-2 · min-1, P < 0.05) and by an additional 29% (170 ± 17 mg · m-2 · min-1, P < 0.05) in obese girls. Insulin infusion failed to stimulate glucose oxidation and to suppress lipid oxidation only in obese girls. Suppression of free fatty acid levels, but not hepatic glucose production, was decreased in obese girls compared with controls. Fasting and glucose-stimulated insulin responses were greater in obese than in nonobese adolescents, who, in turn, had greater responses than lean women. In obese girls, visceral fat, but neither waist-to-hip circumference ratio nor subcutaneous fat, was highly correlated with basal insulin secretion (r = 0.89, P < 0.001), stimulated insulin secretion (r = 0.61, P < 0.05), and insulin resistance (r = 0.87, P < 0.02). Increased visceral fat, hyperinsulinemia, and insulin resistance (involving glucose and lipid metabolism) are closely linked abnormalities that are expressed early in the natural history of obesity. Adolescents with central adiposity should be targeted for weight reduction and health surveillance to reduce morbidity of adult obesity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E118-E126
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number1 32-1
StatePublished - 1995


  • free fatty acid
  • glucose uptake
  • insulin resistance
  • insulin secretion
  • visceral fat mass

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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