Self Care Pharmacy Blog


Yet Another Reason to Lose that Excess Weight

October 27th, 2014

By Courtney Noll, PharmD Student

An individual’s blood glucose levels assist in controlling the secretions of two major regulatory hormones in the body: Insulin and glucagon. Insulin works to bring down levels of glucose in the blood when they have risen too high, and glucagon works to raise the blood glucose levels when they have fallen too low. A significant problem that many individuals are developing is the condition of insulin resistance. This issue is caused by obesity, sedentary lifestyles, poor eating habits, and genetics etc. This physiological condition occurs when cells fail to respond to the normal effects of insulin. In some cases insulin is created in less than sufficient quantities in the body, and in other cases, the human body fails to use the hormone effectively.  As of now there is no specific medication approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of insulin resistance, outside of diagnosis and treatment of diabetes, and the best form of conventional treatment is found to be weight loss and exercise. Smoking is also found to increase insulin resistance, and quitting the habit will contribute to an individual’s conventional treatment of the issue. Insulin resistance plays a significant role in the development of other serious medical conditions as well, including obesity, hypertension, type II diabetes, dyslipidemia (abnormal amount of lipids in the blood), and cardiovascular (heart) disease.1

A recent study was performed in order to evaluate the effects of weight loss on insulin resistance as well as other plasma and tissue markers of systemic and vascular inflammation. This was a prospective controlled study using 77 overweight and obese sedentary postmenopausal women. These women were split into 2 groups where 37 of the participants met 3 times a week and engaged in aerobic exercise and the remaining 40 participants did no aerobic exercising. This study used a state-of-the-art technique to measure insulin sensitivity, body composition, inflammatory biomarkers, and vascular adhesion molecules and carefully conducted weight loss and exercise regimes.2 In looking back at the results, evidence is shown that the markers that were measured and the level of insulin resistance was noticeably higher with a higher level of obesity.2 As the study progressed, it was also noticeable that with combined weight loss and aerobic exercise, the levels of insulin resistance and the other markers measured, also significantly decreased. Unfortunately, there were two limitations that came into play during this study. First of all, the study was done only in postmenopausal women and second, there was no nonintervention control group.2 By performing this study in exclusively postmenopausal women, the results cannot be applied accurately to different populations and/or groups of individuals.

This study may have had limitations, but it was not the only study showing the relationship between weight loss and reduced insulin resistance. In fact, there was no study that I found showing any opposing views or conflicting data. Another study showed the effects of weight loss on insulin resistance in adolescents and found that, weight loss at month 4 was associated with improved insulin sensitivity in obese adolescents.3 Another study published recently, was looking at the effects of weight loss, with and without exercise, on the measurements of blood pressure, blood glucose, and insulin resistance and found that: A reduction of 7% of the initial body weight, in overweight patients, improves systolic blood pressure, plasma glucose, and insulin resistance.4  Thirdly, another study found that using surrogate markers for insulin sensitivity, authors of the Diabetes Prevention Program showed that at one year, improvement in insulin sensitivity predicted lower risk for diabetes three years later.5

Study after study 6,7 shows the benefits of weight loss on various health measurements, but specifically focuses on insulin resistance. In my opinion, losing weight can be one of the most beneficial health choices an overweight individual can choose to accomplish. There are many rewarding diets and workout regimens that individuals have found to be successful. In addition, a gym membership and a simple 3 days per week attendance could be the start to a great beginning for any overweight individual. By decreasing their weight and, essentially decreasing insulin resistance, an individual will decrease their risk of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia, and cardiovascular disease. With the positive effects of losing weight on insulin resistance, what is weight loss worth to you?



  1. Reviews CT. Studyguide for Principles of Anatomy and Physiology by Gerard J. Tortora, Isbn 9780470565100. Academic Internet Publishers; 2012.
  2. Ryan A, Ge S, Blumenthal J, Serra M, Prior S, Goldberg A. Aerobic Exercise and Weight Loss Reduce Vascular Markers of Inflammation and Improve Insulin Sensitivity in Obese Women. Journal Of The American Geriatrics Society [serial online]. April 2014;62(4):607-614. Available from: CINAHL Plus with Full Text, Ipswich, MA. Accessed September 23, 2014.
  3.  Abrams P, Levitt Katz L, Berkowitz R, et al. Threshold for improvement in insulin sensitivity with adolescent weight loss. Journal Of Pediatrics [serial online]. September 2013;163(3):785-790. Available from: CINAHL Plus with Full Text, Ipswich, MA. Accessed September 23, 2014.
  4.  Trussardi Fayh A, Lopes A, Fernandes P, Reischak-Oliveira A, Friedman R. Impact of weight loss with or without exercise on abdominal fat and insulin resistance in obese individuals: a randomised clinical trial. British Journal Of Nutrition [serial online]. August 28, 2013;110(3):486-492. Available from: CINAHL Plus with Full Text, Ipswich, MA. Accessed September 23, 2014.
  5.  McLaughlin T, Schweitzer P, Reaven G, et al. Persistence of improvement in insulin sensitivity following a dietary weight loss programme. Diabetes, Obesity & Metabolism [serial online]. December 2008;10(12):1186-1194. Available from: MEDLINE with Full Text, Ipswich, MA. Accessed September 24, 2014.
  6.  Ling Chun K, Wuillemin P, Rizkalla S, et al. Insulin resistance and inflammation predict kinetic body weight changes in response to dietary weight loss and maintenance in overweight and obese subjects by using a Bayesian network approach. American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition [serial online]. December 2013;98(6):1385-1394. Available from: CINAHL Plus with Full Text, Ipswich, MA. Accessed September 23, 2014.
  7.   Calleja Fernández A, Vidal Casariego A, Cano Rodríguez I, Ballesteros Pomar M. One-year effectiveness of two hypocaloric diets with different protein/carbohydrate ratios in weight loss and insulin resistance. Nutricion Hospitalaria [serial online]. December 2012;27(6):2093-2101. Available from: CINAHL Plus with Full Text, Ipswich, MA. Accessed September 23, 2014.

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5 Responses to “Yet Another Reason to Lose that Excess Weight”

  1. Samantha A Smolinski Says:

    I think the idea of losing weight in obese individuals is a great idea. What sort of work out programs seem to work best? Does working out with another person increase a person’s ability to stick to a workout regimen? What is the minimum amount of time a person should work out to lose weight? It is interesting to see how being overweight can change so many natural body processes like how insulin works in the body. Hopefully, this encourages people to join a workout regimen that works for them and to change their life in a positive manner.

  2. Courtney Noll Says:

    Hey Sam,
    They had highly recommended a combination of exercise and healthy eating to lose the maximum amount of weight. The articles that I had looked through had not mentioned anything about the benefits of working out with a partner, but I know from personal experience that an accountability partner to work out with keeps your more accountable and dedicated. I’m not sure what the minimum amount of time would be for an individual to work out in order to lose weight, but I think a lot depends on your body type and how much exercise the body can handle. Any amount of working out will be beneficial to one’s health and their ability to lose weight.

  3. Brandon Kime Says:

    Great post, Courtney. I was aware that obesity had a variety of health risks, but I did not know that it could cause insulin resistance. Clearly losing weight in obese individuals conveys a wealth of health benefits. It is unfortunate that the lifestyle changes required for such weight loss are so difficult to effect.

    I would be interested in seeing more about the pathology of obesity-induced insulin resistance. Did you find any information about that?

  4. Scarlet Lau Says:

    This was a great topic, Courtney. I think this is extremely applicable to not just diabetics or smokers, but also to the general public on how to prevent insulin resistance and increased blood glucose and pressure levels. This is also a great non-pharmacologic therapy that should be performed on a regular basis. What types of short-term and long-term goals should individuals set? Are there any tools that can be used to track progress? I agree that social support is a great motivator to lose weight and have encouragement from others. I believe if the public is aware of these benefits offered through exercise, that alone can create great motivation to exercise and lose weight.

  5. Samuel Tesfaye Says:

    Interesting topic Courtney.Loosing weight is a pretty challenging thing for obese patients.Loosing weight in this individuals is highly recommended since they are at a greater risk for numerous health complications.We all know the benefits of maintaining a healthy weight,however,I didn’t know that loosing weight will improve insulin sensitivity and decreases resistance.Thank you for the information!

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