Fact Checked

What is the Connection Between Insulin and Obesity?

Maya Austen
Maya Austen

Science has not yet zeroed in on the direct correlation between insulin and obesity. It’s known that obesity tends to weaken the body’s sensitivity to insulin. It’s also known that there is a relationship between the amount of insulin in the bloodstream and the percentage rate of fat storage by the body. There is a connection between insulin and obesity, but scientists have been unable to determine why.

Obesity promotes the secretion of high levels of insulin. High levels of insulin encourage the body to store more fat. Insulin and obesity play off each other in this manner.

Obesity weakens the body's sensitivity to insulin.
Obesity weakens the body's sensitivity to insulin.

Medical research ranks obesity as a risk factor in many diseases, including diabetes mellitus, also referred to as type II diabetes. Type II diabetes is a disease that occurs when a person’s body is unable to produce enough insulin to properly regulate blood glucose levels. Insulin is a hormone that aids the absorption of glucose from the bloodstream into the body’s cells. Without insulin, the body cannot effectively process glucose, which is the most common form of carbohydrate and the body’s primary source of energy.

Insulin resistance is the condition that serves as a precursor to the onset of full-blown type II diabetes. A person suffers from insulin resistance if the body’s cells, because of over-stimulation, begin responding to insulin with reduced sensitivity. This forces the body to produce higher-than-normal levels of insulin in order to maintain blood sugar levels.

Research has shown that the condition of obesity promotes insulin resistance, but science does not fully understand the mechanism behind the relationship between insulin and obesity. People who indulge in a high-fat diet have been shown not only to be at greater risk for becoming obese, they often also have a lower number of insulin receptors in certain tissues, which leads to insulin resistance. Studies also have indicated that a high level of insulin in the bloodstream, as caused by the condition of insulin resistance, causes regulatory hormones to be released into the bloodstream. These regulatory hormones create a shift in the body’s metabolism, promoting an increased storage of body fat.

Despite popular belief, weight is not the determining factor whether a person is obese. Obesity is defined as having an excess level of body fat. Although it might seem counterintuitive, it’s absolutely possible for a person to fall within the normal weight range based on body mass index (BMI) standards and still be obese. The reverse is also true — it’s possible for a person to be classified as overweight based on BMI standards but not be obese.

The reason for this disparity is primarily because of a person’s muscle mass. Volume wise, muscle is much more dense than fat, which takes up 18 percent more space than muscle. This is why a person who has a very high muscle composition and low body fat, such as a professional athlete, will weigh more than a person who shares the same gender, height and body measurements but whose body composition consists of lower muscle mass and higher body fat.

When a woman’s body composition is more than 30 percent body fat, she is considered obese. For a man, the percentage is 20 percent. A person who has an excessive amount of body fat is in danger of suffering from all kinds of health problems.

You might also Like

Discuss this Article

Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • Obesity weakens the body's sensitivity to insulin.
      By: sunabesyou
      Obesity weakens the body's sensitivity to insulin.