South East Asian origin raises risk of diabetes

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrition, Obesity

People of South East Asian origin living in the UK are at much greater risk of type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease. However, they are likely to be missed by public health obesity campaigns because these tend to focus on individuals' body mass index (BMI), according to a leading public health policy academic.

While South East Asians might have the same BMI as white Britons, their health risks are increased because they have lower muscle mass, a higher percentage of body fat and a tendency to central adiposity (fat around the heart and liver), claimed Professor David McCarthy of the Institute of Health and Policy Research at London Metropolitan University.

"All of this is masked by BMI,"​ said McCarthy. He warned that the health risk for South East Asians living in areas such as East London, determined by genetic makeup and early dietary intakes could be worsened by a poor diet in later life.

In a presentation at the Institute of Food Science & Technology's (IFST's) Spring Conference at Leatherhead Food Research last month, McCarthy described how, as far as nutrition for health and activity were concerned, good and bad habits start early in life.

He reported that in Mumbai which has been described as the 'diabetes capital of the world' 73.3% of the population have abnormal blood sugar levels, an indicator of type 2 diabetes.

This issue, together with a low birth weight and a shortage of B12, increased their future health risks.

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