Puberty is a time of considerable metabolic and hormonal change. Notably, puberty is associated with a marked decrease in insulin sensitivity, on par with that seen during pregnancy. In otherwise healthy youth, there is a nadir in insulin sensitivity in mid-puberty, and then it recovers at puberty completion. However, there is evidence that insulin resistance (IR) does not resolve in youth who are obese going into puberty and may result in increased cardiometabolic risk. Little is known about the underlying pathophysiology of IR in puberty, and how it might contribute to increased disease risk (e.g., type 2 diabetes). In this review, we have outlined what is known about the IR in puberty in terms of pattern, potential underlying mechanisms and other mediating factors. We also outline other potentially related metabolic changes that occur during puberty, and effects of underlying insulin resistant states (e.g., obesity) on pubertal changes in insulin sensitivity.
Keywords: Cardiovascular risk; Insulin resistance; Insulin sensitivity; Physical activity; Puberty; Type 2 diabetes.