Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size

Short-Acting Insulin Time Not Short

Short-Acting Insulin Effect Delayed in Obese Type 2 Diabetes Patients
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

June 27, 2007 -- For most obese people with type 2 diabetes, short-acting insulin may not be short-acting, say researchers.

People with type 2 diabetes may need insulin injections to help control the spike in blood sugar that follows a meal.

Regular insulin takes about 45 minutes to work its way into the system -- with the dosage adjusted to the type and amount of food to be eaten, says Jean-Luc Ardilouze, MD, PhD, professor of medicine at University of Sherbrooke in Quebec, Canada.

"Of course, how many of us know exactly what, and how much, we are going to eat 45 minutes before a meal? So the big advantage of short-acting insulin was you could inject it immediately before eating," Ardilouze tells WebMD.

Humalog and NovoLog are two examples of short-acting insulins.

Obesity and Short-Acting Insulin

Ardilouze became interested in the biology of fat tissue. He soon learned that fat tissue has highly restricted blood flow -- and wondered what that meant for obese people who take insulin injections.

When they studied short-acting insulin products, Ardilouze and colleagues discovered that the bigger the dose, the longer the products took to work. They reported the findings at the American Diabetes Association's 67th Annual Scientific Sessions, held June 22-26 in Chicago.

"If you inject 10 units of short-acting insulin into obese subjects, there is not much difference in time to peak effect," he says. "But the time is tripled with triple the dose -- the kind of dose an obese person with diabetes is much more likely to need."

This means that for obese people, short-acting insulin isn't short-acting. Ardilouze says it may take as long as 45 minutes to work -- a fact that doctors and patients don't know.

How could this be? After all, short-acting insulin products are marketed, and priced, on the basis of their convenience. Ardilouze says he was amazed to learn that short-acting insulin was approved by U.S. and Canadian authorities without having been tested in obese people with type 2 diabetes.

"The big surprise when we started this study was to find out that the [biochemical action] of short-acting insulin had been established in young, lean, type 1 diabetics," Ardilouze says. "One product, in the tiny writing on the label, there is one little part that says [it] was never studied in obese people with type 2 diabetes."

That's true, says M. Sue Kirkman, MD, vice president for clinical affairs at the American Diabetes Association.

"The initial trials looking at short-acting insulin were done in normal individuals -- and all of the [biochemical action] studies are done in normal people -- probably lean normal people," Kirkman tells WebMD. "Most studies of rapid-acting insulins are done in type 1 diabetes, although I think there are some type 2 studies, especially with the more recent products."

Today on WebMD

Diabetic tools
Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and more.
woman flexing muscles
10 strength training exercises.
Blood sugar test
12 practical tips.
Tom Hanks
Stars living with type 1 or type 2.
kenneth fujioka, md
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Middle aged person
Home Healthcare

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
type 2 diabetes
food fitness planner