Objective: South Asians have a higher prevalence of type 2 diabetes compared with other race/ethnic groups. Body composition is associated with the risk for type 2 diabetes. Differences in body composition between South Asians and other race/ethnic groups are one hypothesized mechanism to explain the disproportionate prevalence of type 2 diabetes in this population.
Research design and methods: This study used data from the Mediators of Atherosclerosis in South Asians Living in America (MASALA) and the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) cohorts to determine whether body composition mediated the elevated prevalence of impaired fasting glucose and type 2 diabetes in South Asians. Participants (n = 2,615) with complete body composition data were included. Ordinal logistic regression models were calculated to determine the odds for glycemic impairment in South Asians compared with the MESA cohort.
Results: In multivariate models, South Asians had a significantly higher prevalence of glycemic impairment and type 2 diabetes compared with all four race/ethnic groups included in the MESA (P < 0.001 for all). In unadjusted and multivariate adjusted models, South Asians had higher odds for impaired fasting glucose and type 2 diabetes compared with all other race/ethnic groups (P < 0.001 for all). The addition of body composition measures did not significantly mitigate this relationship.
Conclusions: We did not identify strong evidence that accounting for body composition explains differences in the risk for type 2 diabetes. Future prospective studies of the MESA and MASALA cohorts are needed to understand how adipose tissue impacts the risk for type 2 diabetes and how to best assess this risk.
© 2019 by the American Diabetes Association.