Insulin Resistance: Symptoms, Causes, Consequences, Treatment, Prevention and Incidence in Children

This hormone is related to the regulation of blood sugar.

But it also has an effect on fat and protein metabolism .

When you eat a carbohydrate-rich meal, your pancreas releases insulin into your blood.

They lower blood sugar levels and send the sugar to where it is needed, that is, to cells for metabolic functions or storage.

Sometimes cells become resistant to insulin.

To combat this, the pancreas will start to increase more insulin in the body and hyperinsulinemia will result .

Over time, this condition can get worse and the body can become resistant to insulin.

In this condition, both insulin and blood sugar levels skyrocket.

The cells of the pancreas are exposed to damage and begin to produce low levels of insulin.

This can lead to elevated blood sugar levels, which, after a threshold, develop into type 2 diabetes.

The term insulin resistance began to be used several years after the introduction of insulin therapy in 1922 to describe occasional diabetic patients who required increasing doses of insulin to control hyperglycemia.

Symptoms of insulin resistance

Normally, if your insulin resistance hasn’t turned into diabetes, you don’t show any symptoms.

When insulin resistance has reached the secondary stage, and blood sugar levels have skyrocketed, it begins to show some symptoms.

These symptoms include:

  • Fatigue.
  • Hungry.
  • Lack of brain orientation, difficulty concentrating.
  • High cholesterol.
  • High blood pressure

Insulin resistance correlates with abdominal adiposity.

The best sign of insulin resistance is a large abdomen, a waist circumference of more than 102 cm.

An even better measure is the waist circumference divided by the height, which should not be greater than half (0.5%).

The presence of acanthosis nigricans, a hyperpigmented and hypertrophic patch of skin on extensor surfaces such as the nape, is a clinical marker of hyperinsulinemia, due to the cross-reactivity between insulin and the epidermal growth factor receptor of the skin.

Causes of insulin resistance

The exact cause of insulin resistance has yet to be identified.

Insulin resistance can be defined as a lower than normal glucose response to endogenous and / or exogenous insulin.

It occurs most commonly in association with obesity, but can be the result of other underlying causes. However, experts have identified the risk factors for it.

They say that insulin resistance can develop in the following group of people:

  • Those who are obese or overweight.
  • Those who eat a diet high in carbohydrates and sugar.
  • People who have a sedentary lifestyle, with no form of exercise.
  • Those who consume a lot of steroids.
  • People with metabolic syndrome.
  • Pregnant women.
  • Elderly people.
  • Those who suffer from sleep apnea.
  • Those who smoke.
  • People with chronic stress.
  • Women with polycystic ovary syndrome.

Researchers have found that insulin resistance is more likely to occur in people with these conditions:

  • High cholesterol levels
  • High levels of fat in the liver and pancreas.
  • High levels of inflammation.

Insulin resistance used to start in older men and women, but is now occurring in younger and younger people, including children.

Insulin resistance tends to run in families diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Prevention of insulin resistance

The effects of insulin resistance can be reduced and reversed with the help of a few simple lifestyle changes. These include:

  • Eat a diet low in carbohydrates and sugar, particularly with a ketogenic diet .
  • Low calorie diets.
  • Weight loss surgery.
  • Change to a healthy lifestyle, a healthy diet along with exercise.
  • Give up smoking.
  • Sleep well.
  • Donate blood.
  • Intermittent fasting


Insulin resistance is an important link to the development of other diseases.

Patients who are overweight or obese are more likely to develop insulin resistance over time.

Patients with insulin resistance also have compensatory hyperinsulinemia and hyperglycemia.

Furthermore, insulin resistance in the absence of criteria for metabolic syndrome has also been independently associated with the development of cardiovascular disease.

Insulin resistance has been detected 10 to 20 years before developing diabetes in individuals who are the descendants of patients with type 2 diabetes.

Insulin resistance is a common metabolic abnormality characterized by a deterioration in the ability of insulin to produce its normal biological, physiological, or clinical effects.

It has long been recognized that type 2 diabetes and obesity are characterized by insulin resistance.

There is now abundant evidence that many disease states such as hypertension , dyslipidemia, atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, and chronic inflammation are also related to alterations in insulin action, known as the metabolic syndrome.

Chronic kidney disease is also an integral part of the metabolic syndrome.

Diabetes and hypertension are the two main causes of kidney failure, and kidney disease of any etiology leads to insulin resistance and its sequelae.


Although the primary treatment for insulin-resistant states is lifestyle modification with diet and exercise, certain classes of drugs such as thiazolidinediones and metformin have shown promise in ameliorating many of the clinical and metabolic abnormalities associated with resistance. to insulin.

The best ways to prevent insulin resistance are to be physically active, at least half an hour of moderate exercise per day and avoid simple sugars such as: sweets, sugary drinks, ice cream.

Lastly, avoid consuming low-quality processed foods that promote obesity.

Insulin resistance in infants

Insulin resistance is a primary entity in some pediatric populations.

It is associated with the development of metabolic syndrome, especially in certain racial and ethnic groups.

In studies of adult twins, approximately half of the variance in insulin sensitivity and secretion can be attributed to genetic factors.

Healthy children with a family history of type 2 diabetes mellitus are more resistant to insulin, with an altered balance between insulin sensitivity and secretion.

Fasting hyperinsulinemia, an indicator of inherent insulin resistance in children, is an important predictor of adult obesity.

This is compounded by sex hormones (especially estrogens), which contribute to the higher incidence of insulin resistance and obesity in adolescent girls.

There may be specific genetic predispositions, which have been enriched by natural selection.

The locus of insulin resistance is not defined; reduced numbers and function of insulin receptors may be in part secondary to hyperinsulinemia itself, rather than due to a primary defect.

Furthermore, the high incidence of gestational diabetes mellitus in mothers promotes obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus in babies.