Saint Louis, Missouri 63110

  • Insulin Resistance


The purpose of this research study is to 1) understand how some, but not all people with obesity develop obesity related conditions such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and 2) compare the effects of 3 popular weight loss diets (Mediterranean, low-carbohydrate, or a very-low-fat plant-based diet) in people with obesity.

Study summary:

Obesity is associated with a constellation of cardiometabolic abnormalities (including insulin resistance, elevated blood pressure and dyslipidemia) that are risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular disease. However, not all people experience the typical "complications" associated with obesity. Approximately 25% of obese people are protected from the adverse metabolic effects of excess fat accumulation and are considered metabolically-normal, based on their normal response to insulin. The mechanisms responsible for the development of insulin resistance and cardiometabolic complications in some, but not all, obese persons are unknown. In people that do develop the typical "complications" associated with obesity weight loss has profound therapeutic effects. Currently, there are three distinctly different types of diets that have demonstrated considerable benefits in improving cardiometabolic health in both lean and obese people: 1) a Mediterranean diet, 2) a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet, and 3) a plant-based, very-low-fat diet. However, there is considerable inter-individual variability in body weight loss among people in response to any given diet, and it is not known why some people lose more weight with one diet than another. The mechanisms responsible for the different weight and metabolic responses to specific types of diets and the independent effects of weight loss and dietary macronutrient composition on cardiometabolic health are unclear. The overarching goal of this project is therefore to fill these gaps in knowledge by conducting a careful cross-sectional characterization of metabolically normal lean, metabolically normal obese and metabolically abnormal obese individuals to compare body composition, body fat distribution, the plasma metabolome, systemic and adipose tissue inflammation and immune system function, adipose tissue and muscle biological function, the gut microbiome, the brain's structure, cognitive function and central reward mechanisms, and taste sensation between groups. . Metabolically abnormal obese participants will then be randomized to follow a Mediterranean, a low-carbohydrate ketogenic or a plant-based, very-low-fat diet to examine the different effects of these diets on the above outcomes with the purpose to determine the beneficial or potentially harmful effects of these different diets.


Inclusion Criteria: - Metabolically normal lean subjects must have a BMI ≥18.5 and ≤24.9 kg/m2; Obese subjects must have a BMI ≥30.0 and ≤50.0 kg/m2 - Metabolically normal lean and obese subjects must have intrahepatic triglyceride (IHTG) content ≤5%; plasma triglyceride (TG) concentration <150 mg/dl; fasting plasma glucose concentration <100 mg/dl, 2-hr oral glucose tolerance plasma glucose concentration <140 mg/dl, and hemoglobin A1C ≤5.6% - Metabolically abnormal obese subjects must have intrahepatic triglyceride (IHTG) content ≥5.6%; HbA1C ≥5.7%, or fasting plasma glucose concentration ≥100 mg/dl, or 2-hr oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) plasma glucose concentration ≥140 mg/dl. Exclusion Criteria: - Medical, surgical, or biological menopause - Previous bariatric surgery where the gastrointestinal tract is reconstructed such as Roux-en-Y, sleeve gastrectomy and biliopancreatic diversion surgeries - Laparoscopic adjustable gastric band (lab band) surgery within the last 3 years - Structured exercise ≥250 min per week (e.g., brisk walking) - Unstable weight (>4% change during the last 2 months before entering the study) - Significant organ system dysfunction (e.g., diabetes requiring medications, severe pulmonary, kidney or cardiovascular disease) - Polycystic ovary syndrome - Cancer or cancer that has been in remission for <5 years - Major psychiatric illness - Conditions that render subject unable to complete all testing procedures (e.g., severe ambulatory impairments, limb amputations, or metal implants that interfere with imaging procedures; coagulation disorders) - Use of medications that are known to affect the study outcome measures (e.g., steroids, non-statin lipid-lowering medications) or increase the risk of study procedures (e.g., anticoagulants) and that cannot be temporarily discontinued for this study - Use of antibiotics in last 60 days - Smoke cigarettes > 10 cigarettes/week - Use marijuana >2 x/week, or use of illegal drugs - Men who consume >21 units (e.g. glass of wine or bottle of beer) of alcohol per week and women who consume >14 units of alcohol per week - Pregnant or lactating women - Vegans, vegetarians, those with lactose intolerance and/or severe aversions/sensitivities to eggs, fish, nuts, wheat and soy, and/or any individuals with food allergies that induce an anaphylactic response - Persons who are not able to grant voluntary informed consent - Persons who are unable or unwilling to follow the study protocol or who, for any reason, the research team considers not an appropriate candidate for this study, including non-compliance with screening appointments or study visits



Primary Contact:

Principal Investigator
Samuel Klein, MD
Washington University School of Medicine

Janet Winkelmann
Phone: 314-286-2099

Backup Contact:

Johanna Sonnenschein or Ashley Roberts
Phone: 314-273-1879

Location Contact:

Saint Louis, Missouri 63110
United States

Johanna Sonnenschein
Phone: 314-273-1879

Site Status: Recruiting

Data Source:

Date Processed: July 30, 2021

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