Review Article

Mechanisms linking obesity to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes

Abstract

Obesity is associated with an increased risk of developing insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. In obese individuals, adipose tissue releases increased amounts of non-esterified fatty acids, glycerol, hormones, pro-inflammatory cytokines and other factors that are involved in the development of insulin resistance. When insulin resistance is accompanied by dysfunction of pancreatic islet β-cells — the cells that release insulin — failure to control blood glucose levels results. Abnormalities in β-cell function are therefore critical in defining the risk and development of type 2 diabetes. This knowledge is fostering exploration of the molecular and genetic basis of the disease and new approaches to its treatment and prevention.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported in part by the US Department of Veterans Affairs and the NIH. S.E.K. is the recipient of an American Diabetes Association Distinguished Clinical Scientist Award.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology and Nutrition, Department of Medicine, VA Puget Sound Health Care System and University of Washington, 1660 South Columbian Way, Seattle, Washington 98108, USA.

    • Steven E. Kahn
    • , Rebecca L. Hull
    •  & Kristina M. Utzschneider

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Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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