I have spent so much time talking about insulin resistance becuase it is one of the greatest medical threats facing the world.
It is estimated that approximately 33% of the adult population of the United States is insulin resistant, and if left untreated many will develop diabetes, hypertension and an array of other problems. It is an epidemic that is expected to swamp most health care systems around the world, yet sadly it may in most cases be preventable.
There is an enormous literature on insulin resistance. As of this afternoon there are almost 33,000 scientific papers on the subject.
I created this graphic to try and summarize the key points about insulin resistance: the main factors that may cause it, as well as the most important medical consequences.
(Click on the graphic to expand it.)
The Main Causes of Insulin Resistance are:
- Intra-abdominal obesity
- Glucose intolerance
- Fetal malnutrition
- Cigarette smoking
- Some medications
The Main Consequences of Insulin Resistance are:
- Type 2 diabetes mellitus
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome
- Non alcoholic fatty liver disease
- Disturbances in the function of the vascular endothelium
- Elevations of triglycerides and cholesterol
- Disturbances of clotting
- Disturnaces in kidney function
- DIsturbances in one type of heart rhythm
- Elevated uric acide levels
- Some malignancies
This is probably not a complete list, but it gives you a very good idea of the reasons for looking for insulin resistance. Many - but not all - experts now recommend measuring insulin resistance in people at high risk of developing any of these medical problems.
We have good evidence that lifestyle changes can prevent the development of many of these dire consequences, so it is certainly something worth discussing with your health care provider.