Diabetes and cardiovascular disease among Asian Indians in the United States

J Gen Intern Med. 2005 May;20(5):474-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-1497.2005.40294.x.


Context: Studies, mostly from outside the United States, have found high prevalence of diabetes, coronary heart disease (CHD), and hypertension among Asian Indians, despite low rates of associated risk factors.

Objective: To analyze the prevalence of obesity, diabetes, CHD, hypertension, and other associated risk factors among Asian Indians in the United States compared to non-Hispanic whites.

Design, setting, and subjects: Cross-sectional study using data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) for 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2000. We analyzed 87,846 non-Hispanic whites and 555 Asian Indians.

Main outcome measures: Whether a subject reported having diabetes, CHD, or hypertension.

Results: Asian Indians had lower average body mass indices (BMIs) than non-Hispanic whites and lower rates of tobacco use, but were less physically active. In multivariate analysis controlling for age and BMI, Asian Indians had significantly higher odds of borderline or overt diabetes (adjusted OR [AOR], 2.70; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.72 to 4.23). Multivariate analysis also showed that Asian Indians had nonsignificantly lower odds ratios for CHD (AOR, 0.58; 95% CI, 0.25 to 1.35) and significantly lower odds of reporting hypertension (AOR, 0.58; 95% CI, 0.42 to 0.82) compared to non-Hispanic whites.

Conclusion: Asian Indians in the United States have higher odds of being diabetic despite lower rates of obesity. Unlike studies on Asian Indians in India and the United Kingdom, we found no evidence of an elevated risk of CHD or hypertension. We need more reliable national data on Asian Indians to understand their particular health behaviors and cardiovascular risks. Research and preventive efforts should focus on reducing diabetes among Asian Indians.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Coronary Disease / ethnology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus / ethnology*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • India / ethnology
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • White People