The respiratory quotient (RQ) reflects the amount of energy derived from carbohydrate as apposed to fat metabolism. To assess the metabolic state of patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, the RQ was measured five times a day (at 09.00, 11.00, 13.00, 14.00, and 17.00 h) in 20 healthy subjects and 60 diabetic patients. Diabetic patients treated with insulin or sulfonylurea showed significantly higher RQ values than normal subjects and nontreated diabetic patients. Diabetic patients without treatment showed higher glucose levels, and their RQ values were significantly lower than those of treated patients. There was a significant inverse correlation between RQ and blood glucose levels at 11.00 h (r = –0.361, p < 0.01) in diabetic patients, but no significant relation with HbA1c. Treated diabetic patients with a higher body mass index tended to show a higher RQ than those with a lower one (r = –0.269, p = 0.083). Within 1 year, 7 of 13 patients, who had RQ > 1.0, gained more than 3 kg, while only 5 of the remaining 32 treated diabetic patients gained more than 3 kg (p < 0.05). This demonstrates that diabetic patients with a higher RQ tended to gain weight despite the use of insulin or oral hypoglycemia agents. The RQ increased by infusing both insulin and glucose in normal subjects. These results suggest that a high RQ results from excess insulin and excess food. The RQ is a good predictor of weight gain in diabetic patients treated with either insulin or oral hypoglycemic agents.
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