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Association between high-fasting insulin levels and metabolic syndrome in non-diabetic middle-aged and elderly populations: a community-based study in Taiwan
  1. Yun-Hung Chen1,
  2. Yu-Chien Lee1,
  3. Yu-Chung Tsao1,2,3,
  4. Mei-Chun Lu1,
  5. Hai-Hua Chuang4,
  6. Wei-Chung Yeh1,3,
  7. I-Shiang Tzeng5,
  8. Jau-Yuan Chen1,3
  1. 1 Department of Family Medicine, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Linkou Branch, Taoyuan, Taiwan
  2. 2 Department of Occupational Medicine, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Linkou Branch, Taoyuan, Taiwan
  3. 3 Chang Gung University College of Medicine, Taoyuan, Taiwan
  4. 4 Department of Family Medicine, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Taipei Branch, Taipei, Taiwan
  5. 5 Department of Research, Taipei Tzu Chi General Hospital, BuddhistTzu Chi Medical Foundation, New Taipei City, Taiwan
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jau-Yuan Chen; welins{at}


Objectives We aimed to determine the association between fasting insulin (FI) levels and metabolic syndrome (MetS) in non-diabetic middle-aged and elderly adults in a community in Taiwan.

Design Cross-sectional observational study.

Setting Community-based investigation in Guishan township of northern Taiwan.

Participants Our study included adults aged 50 years and above during community health examinations between January and October 2014. People with diabetes mellitus were excluded. A total of 321 people were enrolled.

Outcome measures We divided participants according to tertiles of FI as low, medium and high levels. Pearson correlation was assessed between insulin level and each of the diagnostic components of metabolic syndrome (MetS-DCs) with adjustment of age. The prevalence of MetS-DCs based on tertiles of FI were studied and analysed by Cochran–Armitage trend test. The risk for prevalence of MetS in the middle and high insulin group as compared with the low insulin group were assessed by multivariate logistic regression with adjustments for age, gender, smoking, body mass index (BMI), hypertension and hyperlipidaemia. Youden Index was performed for the optimised cut-off value.

Results Our results showed positive correlation of FI level with systolic blood pressure, waist circumference, fasting plasma glucose and triglyceride levels, while negative correlation was shown with high-density lipoprotein (P<0.001). The prevalence of each MetS-DCs increased as a trend while FI levels increased (P<0.001). OR (95% CI) of MetS was 5.04 (2.15 to 11.81) for high insulin groups compared with the low insulin group after adjusting confounders (P<0.001). Area under receiver operating characteristic curve (ROC) curve (AUC) was 0.78, and cut-off value 7.35 μU/mL for FI was obtained (sensitivity: 0.69; specificity: 0.77).

Conclusions Middle-aged and elderly non-diabetic people with increased FI are associated with a higher prevalence of MetS in the community in Taiwan. Furthermore, FI is an independent risk factor of MetS in this study population.

  • metabolic syndrome
  • insulin resistance
  • fasting insulin level

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  • Contributors YHC and YCL were involved in writing of the manuscript. YCT, MCL, HHC and WCY conceived and supervised the study. IST provided statistical advice. JYC contributed conceived, designed and performed the experiments, collected and analyzed the data, revising it critically for important intellectual content and final approval of the version to be submitted.

  • Funding This work was supported by Chang Gung Memorial Hospital (CORPG3C0171, CORPG3C0172, CZRPG3C0053).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval The study was approved by Chang Gung Medical Foundation Institutional Review Board (102-2304B), and written informed consent was given by all the participants before enrolment.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement No additional data are available.

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