One of the most reliable predictors of insulin resistance
and heart disease in adults is how much body fat they are carrying around. But what about kids? How can we predict their risk?
Rapidly growing and changing bodies make it difficult to use only body fat as an indicator for diabetes and heart disease risk. However, a new study has found a more reliable predictor for teenagers that could lead to early intervention and thus a longer and healthier life.The wrist size and insulin resistance connection.
New research published by the American Heart Association has found there a link between wrist circumference and insulin resistance in overweight kids and teenagers. Dr. Raffaella Buzzetti from the Department of Clinical Sciences at Sapienza University of Rome, Italy said, “This is the first evidence that wrist circumference is highly correlated to evidence of insulin resistance. Wrist circumference is easily measured, and if our work is confirmed by future studies, wrist circumference could someday be used to predict insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease risk.”
Using body mass index (BMI)
, the method doctors typically use, can be misleading in this age group especially for athletes who have a lot more muscle mass. The new study analyzed how BMI and wrist size correlated with the amount of insulin resistance. Interestingly enough, body mass index only showed a 1% variation in insulin resistance while wrist measurement showed a 12% to 17% variation.How are big bones linked to heart risk?
When the body has a hard time using its own insulin to break down blood sugar, insulin resistance is the result. Too much body fat correlates to developing insulin resistance, which is a known risk factor for type-2 diabetes
and cardiovascular disease later in life.
What the researchers discovered is that it isn’t a fatter
wrist that poses the risk, but a larger
one. That’s because high insulin levels in teenagers can increase bone production. For that reason, large wrist bones could indicate insulin resistance and therefore future heart disease as well.
Dr. Robert Gensure, an endocrine specialist and pediatric bone density specialist stated, “It’s surprising that bone size correlated better to insulin resistance than body mass index. Insulin is a growth factor and it promotes growth in many tissues, including bone.”
This realization leads to understanding why overweight teens are also becoming thicker boned - because of the extra insulin their bodies are making. And with this knowledge, preventative lifestyle changes could deter the onset of diabetes and heart disease in the first place. The hope is that Buzzetti’s research will lead to using bigger bones to replace BMI as a predictor of insulin resistance and the risks of developing these crippling conditions down the road.