Glycemic variability in nondiabetic morbidly obese persons: results of an observational study and review of the literature

J Diabetes Sci Technol. 2014 Sep;8(5):1042-7. doi: 10.1177/1932296814537039. Epub 2014 May 29.


Glycemic variability (GV) is correlated with oxidative stress which may lead to increased cardiovascular risk and poor clinical outcomes in people with prediabetes and diabetes. We sought to understand whether morbidly obese persons without diabetes by standard criteria have dysglycemia as measured by GV. We performed an observational study of GV metrics and carotid intima media thickness (CIMT) in 21 morbidly obese normoglycemic and 15 morbidly obese prediabetic applicants to The Biggest Loser television show. The results were compared to previously published studies in normoglycemic nonobese and obese individuals. Glucose was measured with a masked continuous glucose monitor (CGM) over 3 to 8 days and carotid intima media thickness (CIMT) was determined by ultrasound. CGM-derived GV metrics for GV were coefficient of variation (CV), standard deviation (SD), mean amplitude of glycemic excursions (MAGE), continuous overall net glycemic action-1 hour (CONGA1), and mean of daily differences (MODD). We found that morbidly obese subjects (n = 21) who were normoglycemic by standard criteria had higher GV (CV = 22%, SD = 24.2 mg/dl and MAGE = 48.6 mg/dl) than previous reports of normoglycemic, nonobese individuals (CV = 12-18%, SD = 11.5-15.0 mg/dl, and MAGE = 26.3-28.3 mg/dl). Morbidly obese prediabetic subjects (n = 15) had GV metrics indistinguishable from those morbidly obese subjects who were normoglycemic. CIMT was higher in both morbidly obese groups compared with historical age- and sex-matched controls. Normoglycemic and prediabetic morbidly obese individuals have higher GV compared with normal weight, nondiabetic individuals. We speculate that this may increase the risk for macrovascular disease through excessive oxidative stress.

Keywords: cardiovascular risk; continuous glucose monitoring; glycemic variability; morbid obesity; oxidative stress; prediabetes.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose / analysis*
  • Blood Glucose Self-Monitoring
  • Carotid Intima-Media Thickness
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity, Morbid / blood*
  • Obesity, Morbid / pathology


  • Blood Glucose