Diabetes Health

Hispanics and Type 2 Diabetes Risk

As an ethnic group, Hispanic/Latino Americans are at higher risk for type 2 diabetes. Researchers have found one reason: Hispanic/Latino Americans are more likely to store fat in their pancreas but less able to produce more insulin to compensate for this extra fat.

Photo of man holding a billiards cue

Insulin is a hormone that helps regulate metabolism. People with insulin resistance still produce insulin but their body doesn't use it correctly. This condition can lead to type 2 diabetes.

Researchers at the Cedars-Sinai Diabetes and Obesity Research Institute in Los Angeles looked at data on people who were African American, Latino or white. All were overweight or obese and all had symptoms of prediabetes, which include blood glucose levels higher than normal.

Variety of tests

Participants took two glucose tests, which help evaluate risk for insulin resistance, and had magnetic resonance spectroscopy to look at fat levels in their pancreas and liver.

"One of the reasons some people are at increased risk, we believe, is that fatty pancreas is unable to secrete enough insulin, which results in an individual progressing from impaired glucose tolerance to type 2 diabetes," says Lidia Szczepaniak, Ph.D., at Cedars-Sinai.

The researchers found that Latinos had more fat stored in their pancreas, and that put them at higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

Focusing on risk

"Not all people who are overweight or obese and who have insulin resistance go on to develop diabetes," says lead author Richard Bergman, Ph.D. "If we can determine who is most likely to develop diabetes and why, then we can make strides toward preventing it in those individuals."

Nearly 26 million Americans have diabetes, and an additional 79 million have prediabetes, the CDC says. Diabetes is the seventh-leading cause of death in the U.S. and a major cause of heart disease and stroke.

The study was published online in a recent issue of Diabetes Care.

Always talk with your health care provider to find out more information.

Online Resources

(Our Organization is not responsible for the content of Internet sites.)

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality - Diabetes Disparities Among Racial and Ethnic Minorities

American Diabetes Association - Your Risk

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases - Taking Steps to Lower Your Risk of Getting Diabetes

November 2012

Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes

The risk for diabetes and prediabetes increases as you get older. The American Diabetes Association recommends that everyone get blood glucose screening at age 45. If you're younger than 45, talk with your health care provider about getting tested for diabetes or prediabetes if you have one or more of these risk factors:

  • Weight. Being overweight or obese is one of the most common risk factors for prediabetes. About 80 percent of people who have type 2 diabetes are overweight.

  • Inactivity. Being inactive or exercising fewer than three times a week increases your risk for diabetes even if your weight is normal.

  • Family history. Having a parent or sibling with type 2 diabetes increases your risk for disease.

  • Race. Although it's unclear why, people from certain ethnic backgrounds are at increased risk for diabetes, including African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, and Pacific Islanders.

  • High blood pressure. People who have a blood pressure of 140/90 mm Hg or higher are at increased risk.

  • Blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels. People with an HDL ("good") cholesterol level of 35 or lower, or a triglyceride level of 250 or higher, have a higher risk for diabetes.

Always talk with your health care provider to find out more information.

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