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Metab Syndr Relat Disord. 2010 Apr;8(2):157-64. doi: 10.1089/met.2009.0062.

Prevalence and correlates of diabetes in South asian indians in the United States: findings from the metabolic syndrome and atherosclerosis in South asians living in america study and the multi-ethnic study of atherosclerosis.

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Division of General Internal Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94115, USA.



Individuals from South Asia have high diabetes prevalence despite low body weight. We compared the prevalence of diabetes among South Asian Indians with other U.S. ethnic groups and explored correlates of diabetes.


This was a cross-sectional study of 150 South Asian Indians (ages 45-79) in California, using similar methods to the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Type 2 diabetes was classified by fasting plasma glucose (FPG) >or=126 mg/dL, 2-h postchallenge glucose >or=200 mg/dL, or use of hypoglycemic medication.


A total of 29% of Asian Indians had diabetes, 37% had prediabetes, and 34% had normal glucose tolerance. After full adjustment for covariates, Indians still had significantly higher odds of diabetes compared to whites and Latinos, but not significantly different from African Americans and Chinese Americans in MESA: Indians [odds ratio (OR), 1.0], whites [OR, 0.29; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.17-0.49], Latinos (OR, 0.59; CI, 0.34-1.00) African Americans (OR, 0.77; CI 0.45-1.32), Chinese Americans (OR, 0.78, CI, 0.45-1.32). Variables associated with prediabetes or diabetes among Indians included hypertension, fatty liver, visceral adiposity, microalbuminuria, carotid intima media thickness, and stronger traditional Indian beliefs.


Indian immigrants may be more likely to have diabetes than other U.S. ethnic groups, and cultural factors may play a role, suggesting that this is a promising area of research.

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