Reference ranges of HOMA-IR in normal-weight and obese young Caucasians

Acta Diabetol. 2016 Apr;53(2):251-60. doi: 10.1007/s00592-015-0782-4. Epub 2015 Jun 13.


Aims: Insulin resistance (IR) may develop very early in life being associated with occurrence of cardiometabolic risk factors (CMRFs). Aim of the present study was to identify in young Caucasians normative values of IR as estimated by the homeostasis model assessment (HOMA-IR) and cutoffs diagnostic of CMRFs.

Methods: Anthropometrics and biochemical parameters were assessed in 2753 Caucasians (age 2-17.8 years; 1204 F). Reference ranges of HOMA-IR were defined for the whole population and for samples of normal-weight and overweight/obese individuals. The receiver operator characteristic analysis was used to find cutoffs of HOMA-IR accurately identifying individuals with any CMRF among total cholesterol and/or triglycerides higher than the 95th percentile and/or HDL cholesterol lower than the 5th for age and sex, impaired glucose tolerance, and alanine aminotransferase levels ≥40 U/l.

Results: Overweight/obese individuals had higher HOMA-IR levels compared with normal-weight peers (p < 0.0001) at any age. HOMA-IR index rose progressively with age, plateaued between age 13 and 15 years and started decreasing afterward. HOMA-IR peaked at age 13 years in girls and at 15 years in boys. The 75th percentile of HOMA-IR in the whole population (3.02; AUROC = 0.73, 95 % CI = 0.70-0.75), in normal-weight (1.68; AUROC = 0.76, 95 % CI = 0.74-0.79), and obese (3.42; AUROC = 0.71, 95 % CI = 0.69-0.72) individuals identified the cutoffs best classifying individuals with any CMRF.

Conclusions: Percentiles of HOMA-IR varied significantly in young Caucasians depending on sex, age, and BMI category. The 75th percentile may represent an accurate cutoff point to suspect the occurrence of one or more CMRFs among high total cholesterol and triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, and ALT ≥ 40 UI/l.

Keywords: Children; HOMA-IR; Insulin resistance; Metabolic syndrome; Obesity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Anthropometry
  • Body Weight
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Models, Biological
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Overweight / metabolism
  • ROC Curve
  • Reference Values
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • White People