Why Am I at Higher Risk of Getting Diabetes?

People of Asian descent are at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to people of European descent, even when they have a lower body weight.

This increased risk is believed to be due to the fact that Asians, South East Asians in particular, are more likely to carry fat in their stomach area and have less muscle mass. What this means is that Asians at a healthy BMI have more fat around their organs and abdominal area than their European counterparts. This type of body composition increases insulin resistance, which is a significant part of type 2 diabetes.

Risk of Complications

While Asians and South East Asians have an increased risk of developing diabetes, their risk of developing heart-related complications after diagnosis is actually lower than other populations. A recent study done in Ontario showed that people of Chinese descent had a lower risk of developing cardiovascular complications than their European counterparts, while people of South East Asian descent had a similar risk as European patients.(1) This study also showed that people of Asian and South East Asian descent are less likely to die from cardiovascular complications than people of European descent.

What Can I Do?

While genetics can’t be changed, there are many things you can do to help lower your risk of developing diabetes, and preventing diabetes complications if you have been diagnosed. By following a healthy diet and being physically active you can help prevent obesity and also lower your risk for diabetes.

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1. SHAH, B. R., VICTOR, J., CHIU, M., TU, J. V., ANAND, S. S., AUSTIN, P. C., & … HUX, J. E. (2013). Cardiovascular Complications and Mortality After Diabetes Diagnosis for South Asian and Chinese Patients. Diabetes Care, 36(9), 2670-2676.