Diana Nelson

Insulin Resistance And Its Role In Obesity

Insulin resistance: the hidden danger behind type 2 diabetes. Discover the link between lifestyle habits, obesity, and insulin sensitivity.


Obese adults in Britain are five times more likely to be diagnosed with prediabetes and diabetes than adults of a healthy weight. Currently, 90% of adults with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese. People who are severely obese are at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who are obese and have a lower body mass index. But what role does insulin resistance play in obesity? Insulin resistance arises long before type 2 diabetes and even prediabetes are diagnosed. Although it is not always immediately noticeable.

Insulin resistance

Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body’s cells become less responsive to insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps to regulate blood sugar levels. When cells are insulin resistant, they are less able to take up glucose from the bloodstream, which can lead to high blood sugar levels. To compensate, the pancreas produces more insulin, which can further exacerbate insulin resistance and lead to weight gain.

Studies show that the prevalence of insulin resistance is 46.5% among adults worldwide.

The prevalence of insulin resistance among adults is 46% Source: BMC

In the words of Dr. Jason Fung, author of ‘The Obesity Code’ as the body doesn’t want to die (as we do), it protects itself by developing insulin resistance. Resistance develops naturally to protect itself against unusually high levels of insulin. Insulin causes insulin resistance.

Insulin and its function in the body

When we eat, the carbohydrates in our food are broken down into glucose, a type of sugar that serves as the primary source of energy for the body’s cells. Insulin helps to transport glucose from the bloodstream into the cells, where it can be used for energy or stored for future use.

Insulin plays a key role in regulating the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. When insulin levels are high, the body is in an anabolic state, meaning it is building and storing nutrients. Insulin helps to promote the storage of glucose in the liver and muscles as glycogen, and it also promotes the conversion of glucose to fat for storage in adipose tissue. In addition, insulin helps to inhibit the breakdown of fat and promotes the synthesis of protein in the body.

How insulin resistance develops

Insulin resistance is a complex process that can develop over time as a result of a range of factors.

Some of the key factors that can contribute to the development of insulin resistance include:

1. Physical inactivity. A sedentary lifestyle can increase the risk of insulin resistance, as regular exercise has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity.

2. Sleep deprivation. Lack of sleep or poor sleep quality has been linked to insulin resistance, possibly due to disruptions in hormonal and metabolic processes.

Insulin Resistance,Unbalanced diet,Nutrition,Longevity

3. Unbalanced diet. A diet high in processed foods, sugar, and saturated fats can increase the risk of insulin resistance. Conversely, a diet rich in whole foods, fruits, vegetables, and lean protein can help to improve insulin sensitivity.

4. Chronic stress. Prolonged stress can increase the risk of insulin resistance by triggering the release of stress hormones that can interfere with insulin signaling.

Each of these points is important. You should pay attention to them and not neglect your health.

Insulin resistance and obesity

Insulin resistance and obesity are closely linked, with obesity being one of the most significant risk factors for the development of insulin resistance. Obesity is characterized by excess body fat, particularly in the abdominal area, which can lead to chronic inflammation and metabolic dysfunction. This metabolic dysfunction can contribute to insulin resistance.

The excess fat tissue in obesity releases inflammatory molecules, such as cytokines and adipokines, which can interfere with insulin signaling and promote insulin resistance.


Large epidemiological studies show that the risk of diabetes and presumably insulin resistance increases as body fat increases from the very lean to the very obese, implying that the “dose” of body fat has an effect on insulin sensitivity across a broad range.

Dr. Jason Fung says that the longer you are obese, the harder it is to get rid of it. Most current theories of obesity cannot explain this effect, so they ignore it. But obesity is time-dependent. Like rust, it takes time to develop. You can study humidity conditions and metal composition. But if you ignore the time-dependent nature of rust, you cannot understand it.

This resistance leads to high insulin levels that are independent of a person’s diet. Even if you change your diet, resistance will still keep your insulin levels high, says Dr. Fung. If insulin levels remain high, so does the weight set by your body. The thermostat is set high and your weight will uncontrollably go up. A long-standing obesity cycle is extremely difficult to break, and dietary changes alone may not be sufficient. This is why time is so important in this situation.

How to know if you have insulin resistance

Symptoms of insulin resistance include:

  • Extreme thirst or hunger

  • Feeling hungry even after a meal

  • Increased or frequent urination

  • Tingling sensations in hands or feet

  • Feeling more tired than usual

  • Frequent infections

  • Signs of high blood sugar levels in blood tests

Some people with insulin resistance can also develop a skin condition known as acanthosis nigricans. This appears as dark, velvety patches, often on the back of the neck, in the groin, and under the arms. If you notice spots like this on your skin, your first port of call should be to seek medical advice from a doctor to determine whether they are caused by an internal problem such as insulin resistance.

Let’s sum up

Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body’s cells become less responsive to insulin. It can develop for a variety of reasons such as physical inactivity, obesity, an unbalanced diet with high amounts of processed foods, sleep deprivation, and chronic stress. Watch your weight, eat only whole foods, go to bed on time, and make exercise part of your healthy life! And if you are already overweight, use this as motivation to start making changes to your lifestyle to try and shift it. If you have symptoms of insulin resistance, always consult your doctor.

Hungry for knowledge? Here is more!

If you want to find out more about this topic, we recommend you read the book ‘The Obesity Code’ by Doctor Jason Fung. He is a specialist physician, nephrologist, and New York Times best-selling author. Dr. Fung has experience treating thousands of patients for decades and shares his insights on weight loss, diets, nutrition, type 2 diabetes reversal, and intermittent fasting.

book cover Obesity Code

The famous Doctor, Dr. Sten Ekberg, is a holistic doctor, former Olympic athlete, and nutritionist at his office, Wellness For Life, in Georgia, USA. He is a popular YouTuber as well. His very insightful YouTube channel has 2.3 mln subscribers. We strongly recommend watching his video about 10 secrets to reverse insulin resistance.

Healthypedia FAQ

Insulin resistance is a condition where the body's cells become less responsive to insulin, a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels. This can lead to an increase in blood sugar levels and a range of health problems.

Insulin resistance can be caused by a range of factors, including genetics, lack of exercise, and certain medical conditions. Eating a diet high in sugar and processed carbohydrates can also contribute to insulin resistance.

In many cases, insulin resistance can be reversed through lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and losing weight. In some cases, medication may also be necessary to help manage insulin resistance.

You can reduce your risk of developing insulin resistance by maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet that is low in sugar and processed carbohydrates, and exercising regularly. Avoiding smoking and limiting alcohol consumption can also help reduce your risk.

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