Obesity Drives Higher Diabetes Rates in Blacks
Results of a new study conducted by researchers from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago suggest blacks and whites have the same risk for developing type 2 diabetes, when all risk factors for the disease are equal. Given that the type 2 diabetes rate is twice as high in blacks as in whites by middle age – considered early-onset disease – these findings were surprising.
According to researchers, the reason behind the results is not genetic or a mystery, it’s obesity. Previous studies suggested blacks have higher rates of diabetes even when risk factors like obesity are accounted for, but for the first time, this research identified a combination of modifiable risk factors – body mass index (BMI), abdominal fat, fasting blood glucose levels, lipids, blood pressure, and lung function – that increase diabetes risk over time. When researchers eliminated all these factors, they discovered similar rates of type 2 diabetes in blacks and whites.
The study involved 4,251 people who were originally part of the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study conducted from 1985 to 1986. Researchers from Northwestern followed the study participants in 2015 and 2016 – 30 years later – for the development of diabetes. Study results were published in JAMA.