Packing On Pounds Can Be Deadly For South Asians


TORONTO: Packing on pounds is riskier for Indians and other South Asians than white people, says a study.

While white Caucasian people store their extra body fat in their waistlines, Indians and other South Asians carry this extra fat into their internal organs like liver and abdomen affecting their normal functioning.

It is this disruption of normal organ functions among Indians and South Asians that triggers diabetes and heart problems, says the study conducted by a young Indo-Canadian researcher.

Sonia Anand, who is professor of medicine and epidemiology at McMaster University, says that the prevalence of diabetes and coronary diseases among South Asians is due to their body adding the organ-hugging fat” that leads to these diseases.

“South Asians have less space to store fat below the skin than white Caucasians. Their excess fat, therefore, overflows to ectopic compartments, in the abdomen and liver where it may affect function,” says Anand.

She says this visceral fat is associated with metabolic problems such as elevated glucose and abnormal lipids which lead to coronary artery disease.

Her study support previous research which shows that, even with the same body mass index (BMI) as Caucasians, people from the Indian subcontinent have more risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including type 2 diabetes, low ‘good’ cholesterol, and more abdominal obesity.

Arya Sharma, director of the Canadian Obesity Network and a co-author of the study, added, “This study helps explain why South Asians experience weight-related health problems at lower BMI levels than Caucasians. For the clinician, this also means that individuals of South Asian heritage need to be screened for the presence of heart disease and diabetes at lower BMIs.”

The study by Anand and Sharma appears in the medical journal PLoS ONE.