Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders face higher rates of diabetes and are prone to developing Type 2 diabetes at younger ages and lower body weights than the general U.S. population.
Understanding ‘skinny fat’: Researchers found that Asian bodies tend to store fat around important organs, leading to being “skinny fat,” which may contribute to Type 2 diabetes risk by promoting inflammation and insulin resistance.
* The next step for researchers is to figure out how to reduce visceral fat and determine if building muscle can help.
Screening guidelines: Asian American researchers successfully lobbied for changes to diabetes screening guidelines, and since 2015, the American Diabetes Association recommends Asian Americans to get screened for diabetes at a BMI of 23 instead of 25.
* This “Screen at 23” campaign led to greater awareness and policy changes in several states.
Challenges in diagnosis: Research shows that many Asian Americans may have diabetes at lower A1C levels, leading to underdiagnosis and complications arising from untreated diabetes.
* Researchers recommend further testing for Asians with A1C levels in the “prediabetes” range to accurately determine diabetes status.
Behavioral changes for prevention: Programs like SAHELI are designed for South Asians to address their unique cultural dietary habits and stress from being an ethnic minority, in addition to promoting healthier lifestyle choices for diabetes prevention.
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