Rates of Diabetes Higher at Lower BMIs Among Minorities

At normal body weight, rates for diabetes three times higher in Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders

THURSDAY, Sept. 19, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Even at lower body weights, members of certain racial and ethnic-minority groups have a higher prevalence of diabetes or prediabetes than whites, according to a study published online Sept. 19 in Diabetes Care.

Yeyi Zhu, Ph.D., from Kaiser Permanente Northern California in Oakland, and colleagues used data from three U.S. integrated health care systems (4,906,238 individuals aged ≥20 years during 2012 to 2013) to assess racial/ethnic disparities in the prevalence of diabetes and prediabetes by body mass index (BMI) category.

The researchers found that the age-standardized diabetes and prediabetes prevalence estimates were 15.9 and 33.4 percent, respectively. Across all racial/ethnic groups, diabetes prevalence, but not prediabetes prevalence, increased across BMI categories. Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders and Asians had a diabetes prevalence of 24.6 and 26.5 percent in overweight and obese class 1, respectively, while whites had a prevalence of 23.7 percent in obese class 2. In overweight participants, the age-standardized prediabetes prevalence was 35.6 percent among Hispanics, 38.1 percent among Asians, and 37.5 percent among Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders, which is similar to or even higher than that in obese class 4 among whites (35.3 percent), blacks (36.8 percent), and American Indians/Alaskan Natives (34.2 percent). The strength of association between BMI category and diabetes was highest among whites and lowest among blacks in adjusted analysis.

"Racial/ethnic minorities had higher burden of diabetes and prediabetes at lower BMIs than whites, suggesting the role of factors other than obesity in the disproportionate burden of diabetes and prediabetes among racial/ethnic minorities and highlighting the need of tailored screening and prevention strategies," the authors write.

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