Hyperinsulinemia in african-american children: decreased insulin clearance and increased insulin secretion and its relationship to insulin sensitivity

Diabetes. 2002 Oct;51(10):3014-9. doi: 10.2337/diabetes.51.10.3014.


African-American (AA) children are hyperinsulinemic and insulin resistant compared with American White (AW) children. This study investigated 1) whether AA/AW differences in insulinemia are associated with differences in insulin clearance; 2) whether dietary patterns, mainly carbohydrate and fat intake, play a role; and 3) whether the quantitative relationship between insulin sensitivity and secretion is similar between AA and AW children. Forty-four prepubertal children (22 AA and 22 AW) with comparable body composition and visceral adiposity were studied. All underwent a 3-h hyperinsulinemic (40 mU x m(-2) x min(-1))-euglycemic clamp to calculate insulin sensitivity and insulin clearance and a 2-h hyperglycemic clamp (12.5 mmol/l) to assess first- and second-phase insulin responses. Twenty-four-hour food recalls were analyzed for macronutrient intake. Insulin clearance (19.5 +/- 0.7 vs. 22.9 +/- 1.1 ml x min(-1) x kg(-1) fat-free mass [FFM]; P = 0.011) and insulin sensitivity were lower in AA versus AW children (14.8 +/- 1.0 vs. 18.9 +/- 1.4 micro mol x min(-1) x kg(-1) FFM; P = 0.021). Both insulin clearance and insulin sensitivity correlated inversely with dietary fat/carbohydrate ratio, which was higher in AA than in white children. Fasting C-peptide and insulin were higher in AA children with no difference in proinsulin levels. First- and second-phase insulin concentrations and glucose disposition index (insulin sensitivity x first-phase insulin) were higher in AA than in white children (12.8 +/- 2.1 vs. 7.2 +/- 0.6 micro mol. min(-1) x kg(-1) FFM; P = 0.019). In conclusion, the hyperinsulinemia observed in AA children is due to both lower insulin clearance and higher insulin secretion compared with their white peers. The quantitative relationship between insulin secretion and sensitivity is upregulated in AA children. This suggests that increased insulin secretion in AA children is not merely a compensatory response to lower insulin sensitivity. Dietary factors may have a role. Additional studies are needed to determine whether metabolic/nutritional factors, possibly mediated through free fatty acids, may play a role in the hyperinsulinism observed in AA children.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Basal Metabolism
  • Blacks*
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Body Composition
  • Child
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperinsulinism / ethnology
  • Hyperinsulinism / metabolism*
  • Insulin / metabolism*
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology*
  • Insulin Secretion
  • Islets of Langerhans / metabolism
  • Male


  • Blood Glucose
  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Fats
  • Insulin