Weight-related differences in glucose metabolism and free fatty acid production in two South African population groups

Punyadeera, C., van der Merwe, M.T., Crowther, N.J., Toman, M., Immelman, A.R., Schlaphoff, G.P., & Gray, I.P. (2001) Weight-related differences in glucose metabolism and free fatty acid production in two South African population groups. International Journal of Obesity, 25(8), pp. 1196-1205.

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The effects of free fatty acids (FFA), leptin, tumour necrosis factor (TNF) alpha and body fat distribution on in vivo oxidation of a glucose load were studied in two South African ethnic groups.


Anthropometric and various metabolic indices were measured at fasting and during a 7h oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). Body composition was measured using bioelectrical impedance analysis and subcutaneous and visceral fat mass was assessed using a five- and two-level CT-scan respectively. Glucose oxidation was evaluated by measuring the ratio of (13)CO(2) to (12)CO(2) in breath following ingestion of 1-(13)C-labelled glucose.


Ten lean black women (LBW), ten obese black women (OBW), nine lean white women (LWW) and nine obese white women (OWW) were investigated after an overnight fast.


Visceral fat levels were significantly higher (P < 0.01) in obese white than black women, despite similar body mass indexes (BMIs). There were no ethnic differences in glucose oxidation however; in the lean subjects of both ethnic groups the area under the curve (AUC) was higher than in obese subjects (P < 0.05 for both) and was found to correlate negatively with weight (r = -0.69, P < 0.01) after correcting for age. Basal TNF alpha concentrations were similar in all groups. Percentage suppression of FFAs at 30 min of the OCTT was 24 +/- 12% in OWW and - 38 +/- 23% (P < 0.05) in OBW, ie the 30 min FFA level was higher than the fasting level in the latter group. AUC for FFAs during the late postprandial period (120 - 420 min) was significantly higher in OWW than OBW (P < 0.01) and LWW (P < 0.01) and correlated positively with visceral fat mass independent of age (r = 0.78, P < 0.05) in the OWW only. Leptin levels were higher (P < 0.01) both at fasting and during the course of the OCTT in obese women from both ethnic groups compared to the lean women.


Glucose oxidation is reduced in obese subjects of both ethnic groups; inter- and intra-ethnic differences were observed in visceral fat mass and FFA production and it is possible that such differences may play a role in the differing prevalences of obesity-related disorders that have been reported in these two populations.

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ID Code: 77804
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional Information: <Go to ISI>://WOS:000170015300014
Keywords: glucose oxidation, free fatty acids, leptin, obesity, visceral fat, ethnic differences, naturally labeled glucose-c-13, subcutaneous adipose-tissue, insulin-resistance, diabetes-mellitus, computed-tomography, skeletal-muscle, heart-disease, breath tests, leptin, obesity
DOI: 10.1038/sj.ijo.0801660
ISSN: 0307-0565
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Deposited On: 21 Oct 2014 04:30
Last Modified: 21 Oct 2014 04:30

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