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Diabetes Care. 2009 Aug;32(8):1547-9. doi: 10.2337/dc09-0267. Epub 2009 Apr 28.

Physical inactivity and obesity underlie the insulin resistance of aging.

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Department of Health and Physical Activity, School of Education, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.


OBJECTIVE Age-associated insulin resistance may underlie the higher prevalence of type 2 diabetes in older adults. We examined a corollary hypothesis that obesity and level of chronic physical inactivity are the true causes for this ostensible effect of aging on insulin resistance. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS We compared insulin sensitivity in 7 younger endurance-trained athletes, 12 older athletes, 11 younger normal-weight subjects, 10 older normal-weight subjects, 15 younger obese subjects, and 15 older obese subjects using a glucose clamp. The nonathletes were sedentary. RESULTS Insulin sensitivity was not different in younger endurance-trained athletes versus older athletes, in younger normal-weight subjects versus older normal-weight subjects, or in younger obese subjects versus older obese subjects. Regardless of age, athletes were more insulin sensitive than normal-weight sedentary subjects, who in turn were more insulin sensitive than obese subjects. CONCLUSIONS Insulin resistance may not be characteristic of aging but rather associated with obesity and physical inactivity.

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