Insulin resistance refers to the inability of the body tissues to respond properly to insulin . Insulin lets sugar (glucose) enter body cells, where it is used for energy. Insulin also helps muscles, fat, and liver cells store sugar to be released when it is needed. If the body tissues do not respond properly to insulin, the blood sugar level rises.
Several things may increase insulin resistance, including:
- Family history . Insulin resistance may run in families.
- Being overweight. The more a person weighs, the more insulin his or her pancreas makes and the less the person's body cells respond to insulin. People who are overweight mostly in the upper body have greater insulin resistance and have the greatest risk for type 2 diabetes.
- Lack of exercise. People who get little or no exercise often have much greater insulin resistance than people who exercise on a regular basis.
- Age. Teens and older adults usually have greater insulin resistance. Teens have greater insulin resistance because of growth hormones.
- Pregnancy. In the last 3 to 4 months of pregnancy (third trimester), insulin resistance is increased. A woman who did not have diabetes before pregnancy can develop a type called gestational diabetes .
- Some medicines such glucocorticoids (for example, prednisone) can reduce the body's response to insulin.
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Thomas M. Bailey, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Lois Jovanovic, MD - Endocrinology
Current as ofMay 22, 2015
Public Health Alerts
Public health alerts include information about outbreaks, advisories and product recalls. Click on the links below to read the most recent alerts, or visit our Public Health Alerts web page.
Want More Information?
HealthLink BC, your provincial health line, is as close as your phone or the web any time of the day or night, every day of the year.
Call 8-1-1 toll-free in B.C. or for deaf and hearing-impaired, call 7-1-1.
You can speak with a health service navigator, who can also connect you with a:
- registered nurse any time, every day of the year;
- registered dietitian from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday;
- pharmacist from 5pm to 9am, every day of the year.
Translation services are available in more than 130 languages.
FIND Services and Resources
If you are looking for health services in your community, you can use our directory to FIND hospitals, clinics, and other resources.
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2015 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Is it an emergency?
If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be life-threatening. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately. If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.