Packing on pounds riskier for South Asians

It's not fair, but it's true. A new study by researchers at McMaster University has found that some ethnic groups are more likely to be adding dangerous fat onto their internal organs like their liver when they gain weight, while others just add it to their waistline.

Dr. Sonia Anand, who led the study published today in the medical journal , said are particularly more likely to add the type of organ-hugging fat that can lead to diabetes and coronary artery disease.

Previously the researchers at McMaster and the Population Health Research Institute had found that, even with the same as white Caucasians, people who originate from the Indian subcontinent have more risk factors for cardiovascular disease including type 2 diabetes, low "good" or , and more abdominal obesity.

"The new study showed South Asians have less space to store fat below the skin than white Caucasians," said Anand, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at McMaster University. "Their excess fat, therefore, overflows to ectopic compartments, in the abdomen and liver where it may affect function."

This visceral fat, she added, is associated with metabolic problems such as elevated glucose and abnormal lipids which are risk factors which ultimately lead to .

The study was sponsored by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario. Anand holds the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario/ Michael G. Chair in Population Health Research.

"Many Canadians of South Asian descent – as well as those of Aboriginal, African and Chinese descent – are experiencing historic levels of risk for heart disease and stroke. It is only through research like this that we can learn how better to treat and prevent these diseases, so lives are not cut short," said Mary Lewis, vice-president, research, advocacy and health promotion of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario. "The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario is proud to support such important work."

Dr. Arya Sharma, director of the Canadian Obesity Network and a co-author of the study said: "This study helps explain why South Asians experience weight-related health problems at lower BMI levels than Caucasians. For the clinician, this also means that individuals of South Asian heritage need to be screened for the presence of heart disease and diabetes at lower BMIs."

More information: ttp://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0022112

Related Stories

Ethnic groups show different cardiovascular risk profiles

date Apr 19, 2010

There are striking differences in the cardiovascular risk profiles of four ethnic groups — white, Chinese, South Asian and black — living in Ontario, Canada, found a new study in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal). ...

South Asian Canadians failing to get exercise message

date Oct 25, 2009

Exercise is a wonderful way of boosting heart health, but it's proving to be a tough sell in Ontario South Asian communities, Dr. Milan Gupta told the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress 2009, co-hosted by the Heart and Stroke ...

Recommended for you

Clinical trial reduces stress of cancer caregivers

date 12 hours ago

Stem cell transplant is essential in the care of many blood cancers, but leaves patients requiring in-home care for months after. Frequently the role of caregiver falls to family or other committed members ...

Video: Debunking three common food myths

date 13 hours ago

You might have heard that microwaving your food is dangerous. Maybe your health nut friend told you that eating frozen veggies is less healthful than eating fresh ones. Is a glass of red wine really good ...

Tackling child abuse in Africa with research and fun

date 16 hours ago

In one of South Africa's poorest areas, an imaginative new parenting programme is tackling the physical and emotional abuse of children. Oxford University's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Andrew Hamilton, travelled ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.