Asian Americans More Likely to Have Diabetes

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 The American Diabetes Association recently published a study in Diabetes Care entitled, “Trends in the Prevalence of Type 2 Diabetes in Asians Versus Whites“. Their conclusion:

Compared with their white counterparts, Asian Americans have a significantly higher risk for type 2 diabetes, despite having substantially lower BMI.

From 1997 to 2008, diabetes rates for Asian Americans rose to 8 percent, as opposed to just 6 percent among whites.

These findings are in line with previous studies showing a higher rate of juvenile diabetes in Asian Americans and gestational diabetes in Asian American couples with at least one Asian American partner.

Also, according to the a list of statistics on diabetes published by Ohio State University Medical Center:

African-Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders may share a “thrifty gene” left over from their ancestors, which enabled them to survive during “feast and famine” cycles. However, with those cycles phasing out, that same gene may make a person more susceptible to developing type 2 diabetes.

What does this mean? Despite the fact that Asian Americans are less likely to be overweight, our genetic evolution is partly to blame.

But only partly. The other part is lifestyle. “Asians may be even more susceptible to unhealthy food and related weight gain,” says Hsin-Chieh “Jessica” Yeh, an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University. Such as, perhaps, instant ramen noodles? Reuters Health explains:

Studies have shown that even though Asian adults tend to weigh less than white and black adults, they often have a higher percentage of fat surrounding their abdominal organs. This so-called “visceral” fat is particularly linked to the risk of type 2 diabetes.