Effects of hiking at altitude on body composition and insulin sensitivity in recovering drug addicts

Wen Chih Lee, Yu Chiang Lai, Jin Jong Chen, Desmond D. Hunt, Chien Wen Hou, Fang Ching Lin, Chung Yu Chen, Ching Hung Lin, Yi Hung Liao, Chia Hua Kuo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


In the current study individuals with a history of drug abuse (users of heroin, cocaine, or amphetamine) displayed a 13-100% increase in body weight (self-reported) and exhibited a trend toward insulin resistance. Therefore, we investigated the effects of long-term altitude hiking on insulin sensitivity in this special population. Nine males recovering from drug addiction (ex-addicts) (age 28.7 ± 1.3 years) and 17 control subjects (age 29 ± 1.1 years) voluntarily participated in a 25-day hiking activity (altitude 2200-3800 M). On the 25th day of hiking, oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), insulin response, lean body mass, fat mass, and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) were measured in all subjects. After the altitude expedition, insulin levels during the OGTT in ex-addicts were similar to controls, suggesting that insulin sensitivity in this special population was normalized by long-term altitude activity. Along with improvements in insulin sensitivity, a significant reduction in WHR, but small increase in lean body mass, was observed. Twenty-five days of altitude activity significantly reverses hyperinsulinemia in the ex-addicts and this improvement appears to be partially associated with the reduction in central fatness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)681-688
Number of pages8
JournalPreventive Medicine
Issue number4
Early online date24 Mar 2004
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2004


  • Addiction
  • Hypoxia
  • Insulin resistance
  • Obesity
  • Stress hormones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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