Objective: To examine trends in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes and related conditions in Asian Americans compared with non-Hispanic whites.
Research design and methods: We analyzed data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) from 1997 to 2008 to construct a nationally representative sample of 230,503 U.S. adults aged ≥ 18 years. Of these adults, 11,056 identified themselves as Asian Americans and 219,447 as non-Hispanic whites.
Results: The age- and sex-adjusted prevalence of type 2 diabetes was higher in Asian Americans than in whites throughout the study period (4.3-8.2% vs. 3.8-6.0%), and there was a significant upward trend in both ethnic groups (P < 0.01). BMI also was increased in both groups, but age- and sex-adjusted BMI was consistently lower in Asian Americans. In fully adjusted logistic regression models, Asian Americans remained 30-50% more likely to have diabetes than their white counterparts. In addition, Asian Indians had the highest odds of prevalent type 2 diabetes, followed by Filipinos, other Asians, and Chinese.
Conclusions: Compared with their white counterparts, Asian Americans have a significantly higher risk for type 2 diabetes, despite having substantially lower BMI. Additional investigation of this disparity is warranted, with the aim of tailoring optimal diabetes prevention strategies to Asian Americans.