UAlbany researchers recently studied the prevalence of metabolic syndrome (MetS) among Asian Indian immigrants in the United States, finding a high prevalence within the population. In addition, their study found that Asian Indian immigrants had similar participation in health behaviors when compared to their counterparts who did not have MetS. The full publication can be found in the January/February Journal of Public Health Management & Practice.
Metabolic syndrome (MetS) – composed of factors such as obesity, insulin resistance, high blood pressure, and unhealthy levels of fat in the bloodstream – can accelerate the development and progression of cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes, two diseases that can significantly impact overall health and wellbeing. Previous studies have shown that Asian Indians have a high prevalence of MetS when compared to other ethnic groups, making this an important syndrome to research among the immigrant population in the U.S.
The research team retrieved data from a cross-sectional population study conducted by trained interviewers between 2004 and 2006. This study, which included 1,037 Asian Indian adult participants from various locations across the United States, collected health status, health behaviors, medical and family history of disease, and use of preventative health services from each participant. MetS prevalence was estimated from this population using three different sets of criteria within the field – the consensus criteria, International Diabetes Federation criteria, and modified criteria.
The study found that out of the 1,037 Asian Indian participants, 40.3 percent met the consensus criteria for MetS, 34.8 percent met the International Diabetes Federation criteria, and 52.5 percent met the modified criteria, meaning this ethnic group within the U.S. immigrant population faces a heavy burden of MetS. The disproportionate burden of MetS can be seen through observed aspects of the participants’ health; 62.5 percent of Asian Indian participants had elevated glucose levels after fasting, which was about twice as high as that had been reported for Mexican Americans, Whites, and African Americans.
When examining health behaviors, the research team found that Asian Indians with MetS had comparable health behaviors to those who did not have MetS. This further stresses the MetS risk of the Asian Indian population, as genes play a significant role in health, despite health behavior choice.
Since those with MetS did not have increased engagement in health promotion behaviors, it is worthwhile to examine methods to increase healthy behaviors for this population that may help to reduce MetS prevalence. The authors also recommend the implementation of ethnicity-specific MetS criteria as a diagnostic tool in this population. Such diagnostic criteria changes have the potential to correctly identify those at risk and provide advance opportunities for treatment for Asian Indian immigrants.