Get access

The effect of weight loss by energy restriction on metabolic profile and glucose tolerance in ponies


S. Van Weyenberg, Laboratory of Animal Nutrition, Ghent University, Heidestraat 19, 9820 Merelbeke, Belgium. Tel: +32 9 264 78 28; Fax: +32 9 264 78 48; E-mail:


In nine initially obese ponies, a weekly weight loss according to 1% of their ideal body weight was evaluated for its impact on insulin sensitivity and metabolic profile. Weight loss was obtained solely through energy restriction, initially at 70% of maintenance energy requirements, but to maintain constant weight loss, feed amount had to be decreased to 50% and 35% of maintenance energy requirement during the course of the trial. An oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) was performed at weeks 0, 10 and 17. Fasted blood samples were taken on weeks 0, 3, 10, 17 for analysis of triglycerides (TG), non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA), creatine phosphokinase (CPK), lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), T3, T4 and leptin. Total average weight loss was 18.2%. When the OGTT was performed at weeks 0, 10 and 17, ponies had lost 0.22%, 9.9% and 16.3% of their initial weight respectively. Weight loss was associated with a decreased AUC for glucose and insulin. Moreover, greater % weight loss was associated with a significantly lower glucose peak and a lower area under the curve (AUC glucose). The lower glucose response after an OGTT in lean ponies was not the result of an increased insulin secretion, but an improved insulin sensitivity. Restricted feeding led to mobilization of TG and NEFA and to a reduced basal metabolism, with lower LDH, CPK, T3 and leptin. In conclusion: in obese Shetland ponies, weight loss at a rate of 1% of ideal body weight per week through restricted energy intake, ameliorated insulin sensitivity.

Get access to the full text of this article