Hyperinsulinemia, upper body adiposity, and cardiovascular risk factors in non-diabetics

Steven M. Haffner, Donald Fong, Helen P. Hazuda, Jacqueline A. Pugh, Judith K. Patterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

281 Scopus citations


Previous studies have suggested that hyperinsulinemia and upper body adiposity are each separately associated with elevated BP and triglyceride (TG) levels, and with lower high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels. The joint effect of hyperinsulinemia and upper body adiposity on lipids, lipoproteins, and BP, however, has not been previously studied. We hypothesized that the effect of body fat distribution on cardiovascular risk factors might be mediated through hyperinsulinemia. We measured BP, lipids and lipoproteins, HDL subfractions, and insulin and glucose concentrations as part of the San Antonio Heart Study, a population-based study of diabetes and cardiovascular risk factors. Insulinemia and glycemia were assessed as the sum of the fasting, half-hour, one-hour, and two-hour insulin and glucose levels, respectively, measured during a standardized oral glucose tolerance test. Individuals who had diabetes according to National Diabetes Data Group criteria were excluded from the analyses. In univariate analyses, both hyperinsulinemia and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), a measure of upper body adiposity, were positively associated with TG and negatively associated with total HDL and HDL2 cholesterol levels. However, when the effects of glycemia and insulinemia were controlled for by analysis of variance, WHR was no longer significantly related to TG levels. By contrast, WHR continued to be inversely related to total HDL and HDL2 cholesterol even after adjustment for glycemia and insulinemia. Hyperinsulinemia was only weakly related to HDL cholesterol. These results suggest that insulinemia and glycemia might mediate the effects of upper body adiposity on TG, although not on HDL and HDL2 cholesterol. Hyperinsulinemia was also positively associated with diastolic and systolic BP in men.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)338-345
Number of pages8
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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