Background and design: Acanthosis nigricans develops commonly in obese individuals, yet its prevalence and significance in an unselected adult obese population has not been determined. To address these issues, 34 patients enrolled in the Adult Obesity Clinic at Parkland Memorial Hospital (Dallas, Tex) were chosen at random and examined.
Results: Acanthosis nigricans was observed in fully 74% of patients; its prevalence correlated positively with severity of obesity. Black obese patients demonstrated a greater propensity for manifesting the cutaneous disorder than did white obese individuals. Patients with acanthosis nigricans exhibited fasting plasma insulin levels that were markedly higher than those of nonacanthotic cohorts.
Conclusions: Obesity is a significant risk factor for the development of acanthosis nigricans. Conversely, acanthosis nigricans is a reliable cutaneous marker of hyperinsulinemia in obese individuals.