Horm Metab Res 2007; 39(12): 853-857
DOI: 10.1055/s-2007-993152
Mini Review

© Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

Insulin Resistance - The Role of Ethnicity: Evidence from Caucasian and African Cohorts

M. Reimann 1 , A. E. Schutte 2 , P. E. H. Schwarz 1
  • 1Department of Internal Medicine III, Clinic for Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, Technical University Dresden, Medical Faculty Carl Gustav Carus, Dresden, Germany
  • 2School for Physiology, Nutrition and Consumer Sciences, North-West University (Potchefstroom campus), Potchefstroom, South Africa
Further Information

Publication History

received 20.08.2007

accepted 05.09.2007

Publication Date:
13 December 2007 (online)


The risk for insulin resistance and subsequent type 2 diabetes varies between different ethnic populations due to differences in the genetic and environmental background. However, obesity and unhealthy lifestyle, crucial determinants of insulin resistance, are on the rise throughout all population groups though the susceptibility towards those factors may differ. Up to the present day it is not clear whether insulin resistance is based on metabolic changes due to lifestyle modifications or rather an ethnic and thus genetic grounded phenomenon. Genetic variations in secretion products of the active fat tissue (adipokines), a different pathophysiology of changes in glucose metabolism and the deep impact of urbanization (environmental factors) are discussed as primary determinants for differences in manifestation of insulin resistance between Caucasian and African populations. These factors may be influenced or modified by a central theme: visceral obesity. This mini review will elaborate on these issues illustrated by observations from Caucasian and African cohorts.



Dr. P. E. H. Schwarz

Division of Endocrinology

Department of Medicine III

Medical Faculty Carl-Gustav-Carus

Technical University Dresden

01307 Dresden


Phone: +49/351/458 27 15

Fax: +49/351/458 73 19

Email: [email protected]