Just Read: Does Hyperinsulinemia cause obesity, and academic discourse on Twitter (finally)

As I have been reading a lot about nutrition lately (see this post for background: Search Just Read: Why Eating Fat May Not Make You Fat (The Big Fat Surprise), I happened on this article of relevance.

Templeman NM, Skovsø S, Page MM, Lim GE, Johnson JD. A causal role for hyperinsulinemia in obesity. J Endocrinol [Internet]. 2017 Mar 1;232(3):R173–83 discusses experiments in mice with their insulin production modulated to see what happens to their weight.

The content here is relevant because many health professionals (okay, me) are not trained well in the causes of obesity, and the causes are not actually known in all cases. So this is a good review of what’s known about the physiology, plus the experiment itself, which I’ll discuss in a bit.

Social Media as a platform for academic exchange – finally

In some of the work I do, and the work I am doing now, it is a continual source of marvel that some of the most important scholars in a field (you name it) do not have an identity in social media (Do physicians tweet about environmental stewardship in health care?). I give presentations and talks to them about this…and some of them invite me to give them presentations and talks about this (oh, like this one: Dialogue about #hcsm at the 2013 #AAMCJtMtg – Academic Medicine and Social Media).

In this particular space, I think it’s even more critical because from my perspective, even as a physician, it’s not possible to understand the meaning of a published paper without asking questions.


  • This is a slightly controversial topic right now
  • Potential for conflict of interest is everywhere
  • There are groups of scientists working to analyze every piece of literature in this space…and they are finding lots of flaws

Back to this article, then, I was pleased to find that

  • The author included his twitter handle on the piece (@JimJohnsonSci – Hooray)
  • The author entertained conversation about the piece on twitter (but any social network would be fine)

This is a tweet that has a thread connected to it about this study (to see the thread you have to click through to it)

…and the answer is

Notwithstanding, the results of this first study demonstrated for the first time in any mammal that
hyperinsulinemia is required for weight gain.

Hyperbolic proclamations aside from the conversation below, the two things, the paper, and the conversation among scholars, helps put things in their place mentally. It’s not one or the other.

In this case, this piece of data doesn’t unlock next steps in preventing obesity (follow the conversation … ), it’s helpful though.

Bad News/Good News (mostly good news, glass 3/4 full)

The bad news is, with every paper I read, I now need to go find out where the conversation is happening so I can learn. The good news is, the conversation is happening in a place where I can learn.


Ted Eytan, MD