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Encouraging study finds why diabetes rates high for blacks and Asians

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Study shows high rates of type 2 diabetes among blacks and

An encouraging new study reveals the extent of type 2 diabetes among black and Asian populations. The finding, say researchers, is encouraging because it also pinpoints why blacks and minority groups have higher risk for the disease that is preventable, despite ethnic background.


Studies have shown people of South Asian, African and African Caribbean descent are more prone to develop type 2 diabetes in mid-life, but whether the risk extends into older age and why diabetes is more prevalent among minorities and blacks hasn’t been known.

Researchers used data from the Southall and Brent REvisited (SABRE) study, funded by the Wellcome Trust and British Heart Foundation.

The investigation was conducted over 20 years and included more than 5000 middle-aged Londoners whose ancestry was European, South Asian, African and African Caribbean.

Researchers recorded people age 40 to 69 from 1988 and onward who developed the disease but didn’t have type 2 diabetes at the beginning of the study.

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The results of the SABRE study showed South Asian, African and African Caribbean women are more at risk of developing diabetes than British European women from fat in the mid-section in mid-life that is also associated with insulin resistance. The same reasons for type 2 diabetes weren’t found in Asian, African and African Caribbean men however. Future studies may show why black and Asian men are at higher risk for the disease.

Dr Therese Tillin, from the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College London, said "Not only does this study increase our understanding of the reasons for ethnic differences in risks of diabetes, it highlights the astonishingly high risk of diabetes in middle-aged people in our ethnic minorities and the importance of early diagnosis and careful management.

Tillin adds future models will help predict who is at highest risk for the disease. She says “…the good news is that diabetes can be prevented if the warning signs are recognized early enough."

Dr Hélène Wilson, Research Advisor at the British Heart Foundation (BHF), said the results are ‘encouraging”.’ The study finding shows keeping weight off, especially fat around the mid-section, remaining physically active and eating a balanced diet means type 2 diabetes and heart disease can be prevented regardless of a person’s ethnic group.

Diabetes Care
September 10, 2012

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CDC: Public Health Image Library