Doctors' message to Asian Americans: Watch out for diabetes even if you're young and thin
The Silicon Valley techies visiting his office were typically slender Asian Americans in their 30s who worked out regularly and ate healthy meals. But, as Sinha repeatedly found, they either already had or were about to get diabetes.
It wasn't. What Sinha noticed a decade ago is now supported by a growing body of scientific research: Asians, in part for genetic reasons, are disproportionately likely to develop diabetes. They get the disease at younger ages and lower weights than others, experts say.
Diabetes, a condition in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal, often remains undiagnosed until it's too late, especially in Asians who haven't historically been considered high-risk. It's the seventh most common cause of death nationwide and can lead to blindness, amputations and strokes.
To prevent the insidious disease from gaining ground among the country's fastest-growing minority group, doctors and health advocates are trying to increase diabetes testing and treatment for Asian Americans, including Chinese, Indians and Filipinos. Diabetes is largely preventable, experts say — but only if people know they are at risk.
"We began with diabetes is not a big problem in the Asian community" to now thinking "simply being Asian is a risk factor," said Dr. Edward Chow, an internist who has worked in San Francisco's Chinatown since the 1970s.
In Los Angeles County, Asian American adults have the lowest obesity rate of any ethnic group, at 9%, compared with 18% of whites and 29% of Latinos and blacks.
But 10% of Asian Americans in L.A. County are diabetic, compared with 7 Continue reading