Shomaker LB, Tanofsky-Kraff M, Young-Hyman D, Han JC, Yanoff LB, Brady SM, Yanovski SZ, Yanovski JA. Psychological symptoms and insulin sensitivity in adolescents.
Purpose: Symptoms of psychological distress have been linked to low insulin sensitivity in adults; however, little is known about this relationship in pediatric samples. We therefore examined symptoms of depression and anxiety in relation to insulin sensitivity in adolescents.
Methods: Participants were 136 non-treatment-seeking, healthy adolescents (53.2% female) of all weight strata (BMI-z = 1.08 ± 1.08) between the ages of 12 and 18 years (M = 15.16,SD = 1.55). Adolescents completed questionnaire measures assessing depression and anxiety symptoms. Fasting blood samples for serum insulin and plasma glucose were obtained to estimate insulin sensitivity with the quantitative insulin sensitivity check index. Fat mass and fat-free mass were measured with air displacement plethysmography or dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry.
Results: Depressive symptoms were associated with higher fasting insulin and decreased insulin sensitivity even after controlling for fat mass, fat-free mass, height, age, pubertal status, race, and sex (p < 0.01).
Conclusions: As has been described for adults, depressive symptoms are associated with low insulin sensitivity among healthy adolescents. Further experimental and prospective studies are required to determine the directionality of this link.