We tested the hypothesis that obesity, independent of insulin resistance, is associated with increased insulin secretion. We compared insulin kinetics before and after glucose ingestion in lean healthy people and people with obesity who were matched on multiorgan insulin sensitivity (inhibition of adipose tissue lipolysis and glucose production and stimulation of muscle glucose uptake) as assessed by using a two-stage hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic pancreatic clamp procedure in conjunction with glucose and palmitate tracer infusions and positron emission tomography. We also evaluated the effect of diet-induced weight loss on insulin secretion in people with obesity who did not improve insulin sensitivity despite marked (∼20%) weight loss. Basal and postprandial insulin secretion rates were >50% greater in people with obesity than lean people even though insulin sensitivity was not different between groups. Weight loss in people with obesity decreased insulin secretion by 35% even though insulin sensitivity did not change. These results demonstrate that increased insulin secretion in people with obesity is associated with excess adiposity itself and is not simply a compensatory response to insulin resistance. These findings have important implications regarding the pathogenesis of diabetes because hyperinsulinemia causes insulin resistance and insulin hypersecretion is an independent risk factor for developing diabetes.
- Received April 13, 2020.
- Accepted July 1, 2020.
- © 2020 by the American Diabetes Association