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Metabolism. 1999 Feb;48(2):194-9.

Insulin sensitivity and serum triglyceride level in obese white and black women: relationship to visceral and truncal subcutaneous fat.

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  • 1Obesity Research Center and Department of Medicine, St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA.


Although independent associations of visceral fat with the insulin resistance syndrome were previously reported in obese women, the importance of truncal subcutaneous fat with regard to insulin sensitivity is still controversial. We measured the insulin sensitivity index (S(I)), serum triglyceride (TG) level, and regional fat by two methods: (1) the sum of five truncal and four peripheral skinfolds (TrSUM and PerSUM) in 38 white and black obese nondiabetic premenopausal women, and (2) abdominal visceral (VFM) and subcutaneous fat mass (AbdSCFM) by a combination of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and dual x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) in a subset of 26 of these women. After adjusting for the total body fat mass, TrSUM and VFM were independently and negatively related to S(I) (n = 38, P < .012 and n = 26, P < .035, respectively), whereas PerSUM and AbdSCFM were not related (P > .50). Based on multiple regression modeling, TrSUM significantly predicted S(I) independently of the VFM (n = 26, P < .001). Black women had lower S(I) at all levels of TrSUM (n = 38, P = .061 for the slope and P = .03 for the intercept of the regression lines). After adjusting for the total body fat mass, only VFM showed an independent positive relation to serum TG, and race did not affect this relationship (n = 26, P < .001). In conclusion, (1) we confirmed the independent association of the VFM with insulin resistance and elevated TG in obese women; (2) the AbdSCFM measured by a combination of MRI and DXA did not show an independent association with S(I) in obese women; and (3) the independent association of TrSUM with S(I) suggests that truncal subcutaneous fat depots contribute to insulin resistance in obese women independently of the degree of visceral fat.

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