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Postgrad Med. 2011 Mar;123(2):104-11. doi: 10.3810/pgm.2011.03.2268.

Cardiovascular disease risk factors in adolescent British South Asians and whites: a pilot study.

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Centre for Sports and Exercise Medicine, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, The Royal London Hospital (Mile End), London, UK.



Cardiovascular disease (CVD) and associated mortality are more common in British South Asians than in the British white population. Most of the aspects of the cardiovascular risk profile are modifiable, and are thought to be established in childhood. However, the role of genetics and ethnicity has not been fully elucidated.


This pilot study compared cardiovascular risk profiles in British South Asian and British white adolescents, and investigated the relationships between physical activity, cardiorespiratory fitness, nutrition, and CVD risk profile in both ethnic groups.


Cardiovascular risk factors included systolic and diastolic blood pressure, body composition, fasting glucose, cholesterol, and triglycerides. Physical activity was measured using 7-day accelerometry; diet was measured from a 3-day dietary record. Fitness was assessed from running economy, submaximal exercise lactate response, and peak oxygen uptake. Body composition was determined through a bioelectrical impedance analyzer (BIA). Finger-prick blood samples were taken for fasting glucose, cholesterol, and triglycerides.


Twelve British South Asian males (aged 15.2 ± 0.3 years) and 11 British white males (aged 15.1 ± 0.3 years) were recruited. Mean systolic blood pressure in British South Asian adolescents was 6.9 mm Hg higher (95% confidence interval [CI], -13.4 to 0.4 mm Hg) than in their British white counterparts. Following multifactorial adjustment, this increased to 12.4 mm Hg. Fasting blood triglycerides were 1.04 mmol/L (0.52-1.57 mmol/L) higher in Asians; this was nonsignificant following adjustment for dietary factors. The British South Asian adolescents' diet contained 42 g (23-61 g) more fat per day.


Differences in cardiovascular risk profile between British South Asian and British white males are present in adolescence, with higher fasting blood triglycerides in British South Asian adolescent males being attributed to a higher proportion of dietary fat. Interventions may thus be developed to influence dietary choices during childhood, and therefore potentially reduce CVD in adulthood.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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