Sri Lanka Express

Health & Fitness

Not overweight? You may be more at risk for heart disease than your neighbor

SLE News/Features
April 16, 2017


Sri Lankans and other South Asians who are not overweight may be more at risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes than normal-weight Caucasians.

According to a recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine people of normal weight, South Asians were twice as likely as whites to have risk factors for heart disease.

That likelihood was 80 percent greater for Hispanics and 50 percent for blacks and people of Chinese descent, the research found.
"Clinicians using overweight/obesity as the main criteria for [heart disease and diabetes] screening, as currently recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, may fail to identify [heart disease and diabetes] abnormalities in many patients from racial/ethnic minority groups," said study first author Unjali Gujral.

The research included nearly 7,000 people between 45 and 84 years old, according to a HealthDay report.
More than 800 were of South Asian descent from Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Bangladesh. The rest were identified as white, black, Hispanic and of Chinese descent, the report said.

The study included body mass index information. Generally, a normal BMI range is from 18.5 to 24.9, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This study used a narrower range for normal BMI for people of Chinese and South Asian descent — 18.5 to 22.9, the researchers said, according to the report.

Additionally, the researchers took into account four risk factors — high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, low levels of "good" HDL cholesterol and high levels of blood fats called triglycerides — associated with heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Anyone with at least two of the risk factors were considered to have heart disease or diabetes-linked abnormalities, the report said.

Among normal-weight people, those of South Asian descent were two times more likely to have heart disease or diabetes abnormalities, it said. Normal-weight people of Hispanic descent were 80 percent more likely to have these potential problems than whites, the study unveiled. And blacks and Chinese-Americans were 50 percent more likely to have these metabolic abnormalities at a normal weight, researchers said, according to the report.

These abnormalities showed up at much lower BMIs for non-white people, the study found.

Researchers said that, as an example, for non-whites to have a similar number of heart and diabetes risk factors as a white person with a BMI of 25, someone of Chinese or South Asian descent had a BMI of 19.6. For a woman who's 5 feet 5 inches, a BMI of 25 is equivalent to 150 pounds. A BMI of 19.6 is 118 pounds, the researchers said.

“These differences are not explained by differences in demographic, health behaviors or body fat location,” Gujral said in statement.




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