Background: Obesity is a rapidly increasing health problem among US youth. Hyperinsulinemia is associated with obesity and has been found to be a contributory factor for the development of cardiovascular disease in the obese. It has been suggested that hyperinsulinemia of obesity is a result of increased insulin secretion caused by insulin resistance. However, it has been shown in adults that decreased hepatic insulin clearance (HIC) is the primary cause of hyperinsulinemia in this population.
Methods: We studied 15 obese children and adolescents (11 F, 4 M; 8.6 to 18.1 years) before and 10 weeks after their enrollment in a multidisciplinary weight reduction program, which included a protein-sparing modified fast, a moderate intensity progressive exercise program, and a behavior-modification intervention.
Results: All patients lost weight (P < 0.05). Measurements of immunoreactive insulin (IRI) and C-peptide reactivity (CPR) were performed before the program and at 10 weeks. IRI levels dropped significantly, whereas CPR levels did not change. CPR/IRI molar ratios, considered an indirect estimation of HIC, rose significantly after weight loss.
Conclusions: Our data suggest that hyperinsulinemia seen in obese children and adolescents is caused by decreased HIC. The cause for this decrease remains unknown, but it is reversible upon weight loss.