Is acanthosis nigricans a reliable indicator for risk of type 2 diabetes in obese children and adolescents? A systematic review

J Sch Nurs. 2012 Jun;28(3):195-205. doi: 10.1177/1059840511430952. Epub 2011 Dec 16.


Obesity and type 2 diabetes is becoming a major health problem affecting children and adolescents in the United States. This article reviews the current literature examining the association between the presence of acanthosis nigricans (AN) and risk for developing type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) in obese children and adolescents. Ethnicity, family history of diabetes, and emergence of obesity are contributing factors for development of hyperinsulinemia, and insulin resistance, and ensuing visible changes on skin which is known as the AN. The purpose of this review was to assess the validity of AN as an early indicator of T2DM. Nineteen articles that were published from 1994 to 2010 were included for this review and reported an association between AN, hyperinsulinemia, and hyperglycemia. Nurses and advanced nurse practitioners working with children and adolescents have a tremendous role in identifying the risk factors, counseling, role modeling, and referring them to available community resources to promote healthy living. Early initiatives focusing on lifestyle changes may halt the progress, chronicity, and burden of T2DM in children and adolescents.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Acanthosis Nigricans / diagnosis*
  • Acanthosis Nigricans / epidemiology
  • Acanthosis Nigricans / etiology
  • Adolescent
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / diagnosis
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers
  • Blood Glucose