In the Journals Plus

Diabetes risk high in Filipino Americans without obesity

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April 26, 2017

Compared with non-Hispanic white adults, American adults of Filipino descent face higher risk for diabetes at a nonobese BMI, according to findings published in the Canadian Journal of Public Health.

“In this study, we could not explain why Filipino Americans are at such higher risk of diabetes,” Esme Fuller-Thomson, PhD, Sandra Rotman endowed chair at the University of Toronto’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work and Institute for Life Course and Aging, said in a press release. “In future research, we hope to investigate ethnic variations in central obesity, dietary patterns (particularly white rice consumption), insufficient sleep, low birth weight and hypertension, among other risk factors for diabetes that may disproportionately disadvantage the Filipino population in North America.”

Fuller-Thomson and colleagues evaluated data from combined waves of the 2007, 2009 and 2011 California Health Interview Survey on 1,629 Filipino Americans and 72,072 non-Hispanic white adults without obesity (BMI < 30 kg/m2) to determine the prevalence of diabetes among them and to identify risk factors for diabetes.

The prevalence of diabetes was high among Filipino Americans (7.6%) compared with non-Hispanic white Americans (4.3%; P < .01). After controlling for demographics, the adjusted OR of diabetes for Filipino Americans compared with non-Hispanic whites was 2.8.

Among Filipino Americans, increased odds for diabetes was significantly associated with age, cigarette smoking and BMI 25 kg/m2 to 29.99 kg/m2. Age was the only significant predictor of an increased risk for diabetes in Filipina women, whereas age, living in poverty, cigarette smoking and higher BMI were all predictors for an increased risk in Filipino men.

“We found that 70% of Filipino Americans with diabetes are not obese,” Keith Tsz-Kit Chan, MSW, PhD, assistant professor in the School of Social Welfare at the University at Albany, SUNY, said in the release. “This highlights the urgent need to screen nonobese Filipino Americans for diabetes and to target them for prevention efforts because preventive approaches with lifestyle intervention have been shown to be effective in preventing and/or postponing the onset of diabetes in other high-risk nonobese populations.” – by Amber Cox

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.