What comes first, high insulin levels or obesity?

by Barbara Hewitt on December 6, 2012

What comes first, high insulin levels or obesity?

Chronically high levels of insulin may be an important underlying cause of obesity rather than a result of obesity, new research suggests. Previously, experts thought that insulin levels became elevated in response to obesity and the insulin resistance that accompanies it but a study funded by the Canadian Diabetes Association and based on animal research suggests otherwise.

The findings offer hope that treatments to keep insulin in a healthy range may reduce the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes, according to lead researcher Dr. James Johnson of the University of British Columbia. People who follow a high fat diet and meal plan by consuming small amounts of food and snacks throughout the day may experience weight gain because their bodies produce higher levels of insulin, which can lead to obesity, a risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes.

Johnson said that further research needs to be completed to determine how these findings can be medically applied, however they suggest that different dietary patterns may contribute to healthy insulin levels. This can be accomplished by eating meals at regular times throughout the day, having smaller portion sizes and consuming fewer snacks.

‘The Canadian Diabetes Association is proud to be a leading supporter of diabetes research in Canada, investing more than $7 million in the last year. The Association has funded more than $110 million since our establishment, and then turns this research into practical applications, programmes and management strategies for everyday use,’ said Dr. Janet Hux, Chief Scientific Advisor for the Canadian Diabetes Association.

Quote from DiabetesForum.com : “Was reading Stephan Guyenet’s blog Whole Health Source on the whole “insulin hypothesis of obesity” gets you thinking.”

‘Dr. Johnson’s study is an example of the innovative approaches necessary to understand the complexities of diabetes and identify opportunities for new treatments. For many years, the Association has been encouraging Canadians to pursue healthy lifestyles in order to prevent and manage diabetes. Dr. Johnson’s work provides important new insights on the role of the body’s own insulin levels in maintaining a healthy weight and preventing type 2 diabetes,’ she added.

Canada has a growing and aging population and more than 60% of Canadians are either overweight or obese. These factors, combined with an increase in sedentary lifestyles, will continue to drive growing diabetes prevalence, with many people being diagnosed with diabetes at younger ages.  It is estimated however that more than 50% of type 2 diabetes cases could be prevented or delayed with healthier eating and increased physical activity.

‘Diabetes is an epidemic in our country.  However, Canada has historically played an important role in the fight against diabetes and research like that of Dr. Johnson continues to keep us at the forefront of the field,’ Hux pointed out, adding, ‘Working together with our Canadian researchers, we will continue to set the standard for innovative and leading edge diabetes research while making a difference in the lives of the more than nine million Canadians living with diabetes or pre-diabetes’.


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the DiabetesForum.com Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

james December 18, 2012 at 12:31 pm

And how -pray- do we keep insulin within accepted levels? First ask yourself what insulin does and then try to cut down on the stuff that needs insulin to get changed into glucose. Cut down on the Carbs for God's sake. You will automatically also cut down on other biomarkers. Insulin stores the extra free floating blood sugar in the fat cells. To be accessed when the need is great and the abundance has disappeared and the weather has turned cold. But it doesn't get cold anymore in our centrally heated homes and there is no scarcity anymore in our grocery stores. Actually some carbs are worse than others. Beware of the acellular ones, the simple starches.

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