Blacks, Asians have higher risk of diabetes at lower weights

Black and Asian adults may need to start worrying about developing diabetes at lower weights than white people.

That's the conclusion of new research from the Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences at the University of Glasgow, Scotland. The finding suggests that the definition of obesity should be different for different populations so that diabetes interventions can begin at an earlier stage.

For the study, the research team analyzed data on almost 500,000 middle-ages U.K. adults, 96 percent of whom were white. The remaining 4 percent included South Asian, black and Chinese adults. Five percent of the total group, or about 25,000 people, had diabetes.  Compared to whites, nonwhite adults were at least twice as likely to have diabetes. Diabetes rates for white people with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30--the low threshold for obesity--were equal to diabetes rates for South Asians with a BMI of 22, black people with a BMI of 24, Chinese men with a BMI of 24 and Chinese men with a BMI of 26.

The researchers acknowleged that the findings need to be verified by a study that follows a group of people over time. But they hope that by establishing ethnicity-specific cutoffs for obesity, the research will help make doctors aware that diabetes risk can be heightened at much lower BMIs for some ethnic groups and that they can begin giving lifestyle advice and screening for diabetes at lower weights for adults in those groups.

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Sourced from: Reuters, Weight associated with diabetes risk differs by ethnicity