Objective: Lower lipid and insulin levels are found during a glucose-tolerance test in obese black than obese white South African women. Therefore, beta-cell function and lipid metabolism were compared in these populations during a mixed meal.
Research methods and procedures: Blood concentrations of glucose, free fatty acids (FFAs), insulin, lipograms, and in vivo FFA oxidation were determined at fasting and for 7 hours after oral administration of a mixed emulsion containing glucose-casein-sucrose-lipid and [1-(13)C] palmitic acid in 8 lean black women (LBW), 10 obese black women (OBW), 9 lean white women (LWW), and 10 obese white women (OWW). Subcutaneous and visceral fat mass was assessed by computerized tomography.
Results: Visceral fat area was higher in OWW (152.7 +/- 17.0 cm(2)) than OBW (80.0 +/- 6.7 cm(2); p < 0.01). In OBW, 30-minute insulin levels were higher (604.3 +/- 117.6 pM) than OWW (311.0 +/- 42.9 pM; p < 0.05). Total triglyceride was higher in OWW (706.7 +/- 96.0 mM x 7 hours) than OBW (465.7 +/- 48.2 mM x 7 hours; p < 0.05) and correlated with visceral fat area (beta = 0.38, p = 0.05). Palmitate oxidation was higher in lean than obese women in both ethnic groups and correlated negatively with fat mass (beta = -0.58, p < 0.005).
Discussion: The higher 30-minute insulin response in OBW may reflect a higher insulinotropic effect of FFAs or glucose. The elevated triglyceride level of OWW may be due to their higher visceral fat mass and possibly reduced clearance by adipose tissue.