Fasting hyperinsulinemia in the presence of normoglycemia usually indicates insulin resistance and is characteristic of populations at high risk for developing NIDDM. Hyperinsulinemia predicts the development of impaired glucose tolerance and NIDDM in Pima Indians, a population with a high incidence of NIDDM. Insulin concentrations in population-based samples of children who have different risks of developing NIDDM later in life have not been reported previously.
We compared fasting insulin concentrations in two populations of nondiabetic children, 6–19 yr of age: Pima Indians from southern Arizona and Caucasians from Minnesota.
Insulin concentration varied with age, sex, glucose concentration, and relative weight. Mean fasting insulin concentration was 140.3 pM in Pima Indian males, 94.4 pM in Caucasian males, 171.5 pM in Pima Indian females, and 107.1 pM in Caucasian females. For each sex, the mean fasting insulin concentration, controlled for age, glucose, and relative weight, was significantly higher in the Pima Indians than in the Caucasians (P < 0.001).
From a young age, Pima Indian children have higher fasting insulin concentrations than Caucasian children. As hyperinsulinemia predicts subsequent NIDDM, these data suggest that the susceptibility to NIDDM is manifest at a young age as fasting hyperinsulinemia.