Obesity and Physical Inactivity are leading risk factors for insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. West Virginia leads the U.S. in obesity rates and ranks 11th for no leisure time physical activity. Data is scarce examining modifiable risk factors in young adults transitioning from high school to college. The purpose of this analysis was to examine the relationship between BMI and Physical Activity on insulin levels in college-aged freshman enrolled in the HERD (Higher Education Reducing Diabetes) Study at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. The HERD Study is a 4 year, randomized study examining the effects of a freshman healthy lifestyle intervention on type 2 diabetes risk. One hundred eighty three freshman enrolled into the study [age= 18.3±1.5 years; female=59.4%(n=107); 85.5% Caucasian(n=153); BMI= 27.3±8.1 kg/m2; VO2max=35.6 ±8.59 ml/kg/min]. Diabetes risk values were A1c= 5.09±.43%; fasting glucose= 85.9±9.66 mg/dl; insulin= 0.76±.60ng/ml. Fifty four percent (n=92) of students were deemed overweight or obese (BMI ≥ 25 kg/m2) while 67% (n= 122) did not meet current physical activity guidelines. No significant differences were found between BMI and A1c (p=.48) or fasting glucose (p=.82). However, students with a BMI ≥25 kg/m2 showed fasting insulin levels twice as high as students with a BMI <25 kg/m2 (.50 vs. .98 ng/ml, p=.003). With physical activity, there was a significant, inverse correlation between VO2max and insulin levels (r=-.23, p=.048). However, no differences were found between students whom aerobic train vs. not aerobic train (p=.60). A trend was shown where resistance trained students had lower insulin levels compared to non-resistance trained (.52+.61 vs. .77+.37 ng/ml, p=.06). BMI and fitness measures appear to impact insulin levels in college-aged freshman thereby increasing their risk for diabetes. Future analysis will examine the effects of lifestyle intervention on improvements in BMI and cardiometabolic markers.


R. Powell: None. H. Cyphert: None.

Readers may use this article as long as the work is properly cited, the use is educational and not for profit, and the work is not altered. More information is available at http://www.diabetesjournals.org/content/license.