Insulin Sensitivity

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Alan Constable DAFNE Graduate
Maidstone General Hospital
279 posts

Can someone please explain - in simple terms - what this is and what effects it can have.

alturn DAFNE Graduate
NHS Grampian
69 posts

I am not aware of any definition of "sensitivity", so as usual it's in the eye of the user.

As a user, I would define high sensitivity if your QA ratios are low eg 0.5:1 or 1:1 (units of insulin to counteract 1 CP of carbs), and your BI is low. I thought I saw some entries where ratios were given as even less but my meter only works in 0.5 increments. Conversely, I would say ratios of 2.5:1 or 3:1 indicate less sensitivity.

But sensitivity can vary for each meal time (mine are 2:1, 1.5:1 and 2.5:1 and even 2.5:1 seems much too low sometimes as often high at bedtime and can drop a lot overnight). So this makes it all more complicated.

High sensitivity means a small change in units can lead to a large change in BG, so possibly more prone to low and high BG levels. Less sensitivity means it may be more difficult to get BG levels down if high.

Tried to keep it simple, hope it helps,


Warwick DAFNE Graduate
Diabetes Australia-Vic, Melbourne, Victoria
496 posts

Insulin sensitivity is simply how well your body responds to insulin.

Type 2 diabetes is a result of low insulin sensitivity - high blood sugars are a result of more insulin being required to carry the blood glucose into cells. There are a number of factors that can cause this - see

At the other end of the spectrum, high insulin sensitivity means that a small amount of insulin converts a larger amount of blood glucose into cells, leading to lower blood glucose levels. There are also a number of factors that influence this such as body mass composition, exercise, fasting, seasons of the year, ability to sleep well, and diet.

Alan Constable DAFNE Graduate
Maidstone General Hospital
279 posts

Thanks for the replies - very useful.