Objective: The main objective of the study was to examine the effect of early life malnutrition on the relation between insulin sensitivity and abdominal adiposity in adulthood. It was hypothesised that participants with early life malnutrition would display a more pronounced deterioration of insulin sensitivity in association with a gain in abdominal fat.
Design: As a first attempt to investigate this issue, we studied the effect of body fat gains in a cross-sectional context.
Subjects: A total of 26 young adult men with evidence of malnutrition during the first year of life and 27 control subjects were recruited for this study. Malnutrition status was determined from medical files of paediatric hospitals in the Mexico City metropolitan area.
Measurements: Insulin sensitivity was measured by hyperinsulinaemic euglycaemic clamp, and body composition was measured by anthropometrics, bioelectrical impedance and computed tomography.
Results: There was a negative correlation between total abdominal adipose tissue area and insulin sensitivity in the previously malnourished and control groups (r(2)=0.65 and 0.35, P<0.01, respectively). When matched for low amounts of abdominal fat (114 cm(2)), participants with and without early life malnutrition had similar insulin sensitivity (9.03 vs 8.88 mg kg(-1) x min(-1)). However, when matched for high amounts of abdominal fat (310 cm(2)) participants who were malnourished during the first year of life had lower insulin sensitivity (4.74 vs 6.85 mg kg(-1) x min(-1), P<0.05).
Conclusion: Higher levels of abdominal adipose tissue are more detrimental to insulin sensitivity in previously malnourished individuals.