South Asians who immigrate to the United States have a propensity toward insulin resistance, central obesity, and elevated total cholesterol:high-density lipoprotein (HDL) ratio. To evaluate whether these alterations are apparent at a younger age, we studied 32 offspring of South Asian immigrants and compared them with 29 of European descent between 18 to 30 years of age. American-born South Asian males had significantly higher total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (TC:LDL) ratios, triglycerides, and fasting insulin levels (13.9 +/- 7.1 and 10.0 +/- 5.5 microU/mL, P <.01) than their European counterparts. The South Asian females only had increased plasma insulin levels (15.3 +/- 8.8 and 10.0 +/- 5.1 microU/mL, P =.05). The entire South Asian group had higher truncal skinfold thickness (40.1 +/- 18.1 and 30.3 +/- 12.6 mm, P = <.05) and lower insulin-like growth factor binding protein (IGFBP)-1 levels (46.8 +/- 33.4 and 56.0 +/- 33.4 microg/L, P =.05). Plasma leptin levels were also significantly higher in both males (4.3 +/- 2.5 v 2.8 +/- 1.3 ng/mL, P =.0001) and females (20.5 +/- 10.3 v 10.3 +/- 6.3 ng/mL, P =.002) South Asian subjects. A significant correlation between plasma leptin and insulin, triglycerides, TC, and body mass index (BMI) was seen in the South Asian males. South Asians born in the United States show evidence for an altered metabolic profile in young adulthood. The relative contributions of inheritance and nutritional practices early in life to this alteration remain unclear.
Copyright 2001 by W.B. Saunders Company