South Asians Show Higher Fat Mass Than Other Ethnicities

Finding may help explain group's higher levels of insulin and HOMA
By Eric Metcalf
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Oct. 23 (HealthDay News) -- South Asians may have higher fat mass and lower lean mass than some other ethnic groups, which may be associated with increased Homeostasis Model Assessment (HOMA) and insulin levels, according to a study published online Oct. 9 in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Scott A. Lear, Ph.D., of the Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, Canada, and colleagues analyzed data from 828 individuals of Chinese, European, South Asian, and Aboriginal Canadian origin residing in Canada for more than three years. Researchers took measurements of total body fat, fat and lean mass, fasting glucose and insulin levels, as well as insulin resistance via the HOMA.

At any given body fat mass value, the researchers found that South Asians had less lean mass than the other groups after adjustment for a variety of factors. In men, the fat to lean mass ratio was higher in South Asians than Chinese, Aboriginal or Europeans. In women, this ratio was also higher for South Asians than the other three groups. In addition, HOMA levels were higher in South Asians than the three other cohorts, although the differences disappeared after adjusting for fat to lean mass ratio.

"The results of our study indicate that South Asians are not only at increased risk for insulin resistance and diabetes due to a higher fat mass but the result of lower lean mass as well," the authors conclude. "Interventions that reduce fat mass and increase muscle mass, such as caloric restriction and regular exercise, should be investigated in this population."

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