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Abdominal obesity and insulin resistance drive diabetes in certain ethnic groups

Abdominal obesity and insulin resistance are the major risk factors driving the increased incidence of diabetes in Asian and African ethnic groups, say UK researchers.

The 20-year study looked at the effect of ethnicity on diabetes risk factors in 2,528 men and women aged 40 to 69 years in the London boroughs of Southall and Brent.

They found that adjusting the risk factor analysis for insulin resistance reduced the difference in risk of developing diabetes between men of Indian racial origin and men of European origin from nearly three times to just over two. For African Caribbean men, adjustment for abdominal obesity reduced the difference in risk between them and European men from two times to 1.8 times the risk.

For both ethnic groups, the same relationship was not seen in women.

The researchers from Imperial College London, concluded: ‘Our findings strongly indicate that better assessment of risk factors, or a search for novel factors, are required if we are to understand why ethnic minority groups are at such high risk of diabetes.'

Diabetes Care, published online 10 September