Increased lipid oxidation is generally observed in subjects with obesity and diabetes and has been suggested to be responsible for the insulin resistance associated with these conditions. We measured, by continuous indirect calorimetry, lipid and glucose oxidation and nonoxidative glucose disposal in 82 obese subjects during a 100-g oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) and in 26 during a euglycemic insulin (40 mU · min−1 · m−2) clamp. The obese subjects were subdivided into those with normal glucose tolerance (group A), those with impaired glucose tolerance (group B), and those with overt diabetes (group C). Forty-five healthy nonobese subjects were subdivided into a young and an older control group, which were age-matched to the nondiabetic obese (groups A and B) and diabetic obese (group C) subjects, respectively. In the postabsorptive state, as well as in response to insulin stimulation (both OGTT and insulin clamp), lipid oxidation was significantly increased in all three obese groups in comparison with either young or older controls. Basal glucose oxidation was significantly decreased in obese nondiabetic and obese glucose— intolerant subjects (groups A and B) compared with age-matched controls. During the OGTT and during the insulin clamp, insulin-stimulated glucose oxidation was decreased in all three obese groups. In contrast, nonoxidative glucose disposal was markedly inhibited in nondiabetic and diabetic obese patients during the euglycemic insulin clamp but not during the OGTT. After glucose ingestion, nonoxidative glucose uptake was normal in nondiabetic obese and glucoseintolerant obese subjects and decreased in diabetic obese subjects. Statistical analysis revealed that lipid and glucose oxidation were strongly and inversely related in the basal state, during euglycemic insulin clamp, and during OGTT. The negative correlation between lipid oxidation and nonoxidative glucose uptake, although significant, was much weaker. Fasting and post-OGTT hyperglycemia were the strongest (negative) correlates of nonoxidative glucose disposal in both single and multiple regresson models. We conclude that 7) reduced glucose oxidation and reduced nonoxidative glucose disposal partake of the insulin resistance of nondiabetic obese and diabetic obese individuals; 2) hyperglycemia provides a compensatory mechanism for the defect in nonoxidative glucose disposal in nondiabetic obese subjects; however, this compensation is characteristically lost when overt diabetes ensues; and 3) increased lipid oxidation may contribute, in part, to the defects in glucose oxidation and nonoxidative glucose uptake in obesity.

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