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Metabolism. 2007 Feb;56(2):206-13.

Elevated total and central adiposity and low physical activity are associated with insulin resistance in children.

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  • 1Laboratory of Nutrition and Clinical Dietetics, Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Harokopio University, 176 71 Athens, Greece.


The aim of this study was 2-fold: (1) to examine insulin resistance, blood lipid levels, and inflammatory markers in 9- to 11.5-year-old obese and lean children and (2) to identify factors that influence insulin resistance in this cohort of youths. Body mass index, skinfold thickness, waist circumference, physical activity (4-day triaxial accelerometer), cardiorespiratory fitness (submaximal bicycle ergometer test), and dietary intake (3-day food records) were evaluated in 27 obese and 27 lean boys and girls. Fasting blood samples were analyzed for insulin, glucose, lipids and lipoproteins, C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin 6, soluble intercellular adhesion molecule, and soluble vascular cell adhesion molecule. Homeostasis model assessment (HOMA) was used to evaluate insulin resistance (HOMA-IR). Obese children presented higher HOMA-IR, CRP, and blood lipid levels (all P < .01) compared with lean children. Total body fat and waist circumference were positively associated with fasting insulin (r > or = 0.51), HOMA-IR (r > or = 0.56), CRP (r > or = 0.51), and blood triacylglycerol (r > or = 0.38), and were inversely correlated with high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (r > or = -0.39; all P < .01). Cardiorespiratory fitness was inversely associated with HOMA-IR (r = -0.24; P < .05), but this association disappeared when adjusted for age, sex, and fat mass. Waist circumference and total daily physical activity explained 49% of the variance in HOMA-IR in these children. In conclusion, these findings suggest that total and central adiposity are positively associated and physical activity is negatively associated with insulin resistance in children. Interventions to improve glucose metabolism in youth should target at reducing total body and abdominal fat and increasing physical activity. The lack of association between inflammatory markers and HOMA-IR suggests that obesity may precede the elevation of these markers in the evolution of insulin resistance in youth.

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