Insulin Resistance Linked to Race

Black women—even if their weight is normal--may be at increased risk for insulin resistance, a condition linked to diabetes, high blood pressure and heart vessel disease, according to research by WFU School of Medicine.  “It is well known that obesity is a contributor to insulin resistance,” said endocrinologist Jorge Calles-Escandon, M.D. “Our research suggests that race may also be an important factor.  Almost half of lean, black women had insulin resistance—double the rate in Hispanic or Caucasian women.”

The researchers looked at how obesity relates to insulin resistance in Black, Caucasian and Hispanic women.  Insulin resistance means the body can’t effectively use the hormone insulin to process glucose, forcing the pancreas to produce more insulin.  Researchers analyzed data from women in the nation Insulin Resistance Atherosclerosis Study (IRAS).

They found that 47 percent of Black women of normal weight had insulin resistance compared to less than 20 percent of the Hispanic or Caucasian women. 

Calles-Escandon said obesity may need to be redefined in Black women.  “If the results hold true, Black women may need to be evaluated and treated for insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease even at weight not considered obese by current standards.” 


Last Updated: 12-21-2015
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