The objectives of the study were to quantify the effect of a 1-year healthy eating-physical activity/exercise lifestyle modification program on insulin sensitivity in viscerally obese men classified according to their glucose tolerance status and to evaluate the respective contributions of changes in body fat distribution vs changes in cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) to the improvements in indices of plasma glucose/insulin homeostasis. Abdominally obese, dyslipidemic men (waist circumference ≥90 cm, triglycerides ≥1.69 mmol/L, and/or high-density lipoprotein cholesterol <1.03 mmol/L) were recruited. The 1-year intervention/evaluation was completed by 104 men. Body weight, composition, and fat distribution were assessed by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry/computed tomography. Cardiorespiratory fitness and cardiometabolic risk profile were measured. After 1 year, insulin sensitivity improved in association with decreases in both visceral (VAT) and subcutaneous adiposity (SAT) as well as with the improvement in CRF, regardless of baseline glucose tolerance. Further analyses were performed according to changes in glucose tolerance status: improvement (group I, n = 39), no change (group N, n = 50), or worsening (group W, n = 15) after 1 year. Groups I and N improved their insulin sensitivity and their CRF, whereas group W did not, while losing less VAT than groups I and N. Multiple regressions showed that reduction in VAT was associated with an improvement in homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance, whereas reduction in SAT was rather associated with improvement of the insulin sensitivity index of Matsuda. Changes in CRF were not independently associated with changes in indices of plasma glucose/insulin homeostasis. A 1-year lifestyle intervention improved plasma glucose/insulin homeostasis in viscerally obese men, including those with normal glucose tolerance status at baseline. Changes in SAT and VAT but not in CRF appeared to mediate these improvements.
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