Study: Dietary supplement could improve insulin sensitivity, reduce abdominal fat in elderly

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Treatment with dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) appears to improve insulin sensitivity in elderly men and women, as well as reduce abdominal fat, according to a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Decreased insulin sensitivity can be a precursor of actual diabetes because it indicates that the body has become less efficient in processing glucose.

Researchers conducted the study to discover if restoring DHEA could improve some negative effects of aging, especially the accumulation of abdominal fat and decreased insulin sensitivity.

The researchers studied 28 men and 28 women ages 65 to 78 who took either DHEA or a placebo daily for six months. The subjects who received DHEA experienced significant reductions in visceral and subcutaneous abdominal fat and an increase in insulin sensitivity, compared with placebo recipients.

DHEA is not yet regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and its long-term side effects are not yet known, warns study leader Dr. Dennis T. Villareal from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.