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Diabetes Health Center

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Ethnicity Alters Diabetes Risks

Changes in Weight, Diet May Affect Blacks, Asians, Hispanics Differently Than Whites

Squaring the Numbers

What do all those numbers mean? Here's what the researchers found when they took a closer look at the data.

Asians had the lowest average BMI. But they had the steepest rise in diabetes risk of any ethnic group if they gained weight after age 18.

"Weight gain is particularly detrimental for Asians," the researchers write. They suggest "lower cutoff BMI values are needed to identify Asians at a higher risk of diabetes."

Meanwhile, blacks had the highest average BMI. But BMI seemed to have less impact on diabetes risk for them than it did for whites, according to the study.

Still, "In conclusion, after accounting for BMI, our study indicates that Asians, Hispanics, and blacks were all at higher risk for type 2 diabetes than whites," the researchers write.

Healthy Diet Helps

The diet surveys added more clues.

Healthy diets -- those that emphasized fiber and unsaturated fats while minimizing trans fats and items that spike blood sugar -- apparently cut diabetes risk more for blacks, Hispanics, and Asians than for whites.

"These results suggest that dietary intervention may be particularly effective for diabetes prevention among minorities, although this hypothesis needs to be tested in future studies," Shai's team writes.

The researchers note two limits to their study: The nurses might not have reported their information perfectly, and they may not represent all women in their age group.

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