Study finds Asian Americans have high rate of type 2 diabetes

Despite having a lower prevalence of obesity, Asian Americans are more likely to have type 2 diabetes, and the numbers continue to worsen, according to a new study from Johns Hopkins University researchers.

The findings, which were published in the journal Diabetes Care, are surprising given the low rate of obesity among this group. Asian Americans, on average, tend to have much healthier body mass index measurements, which are commonly used to assess diabetes risk.

However, the researchers found that this doesn't necessarily translate in to a lower diabetes rate, particularly among the group studied. For the investigation, researchers analyzed data collected by national health surveys. They compared diabetes rates among multiple ethnic groups.

They found that Asian Americans were 30 to 50 percent more likely to have the condition than non-Hispanic whites. Additionally, the rate of diabetes grew much faster among Asian Americans.

The researchers said that the findings are puzzling due to the fact that their data also confirmed the notion that these individuals tend to have healthier BMIs. They found no explanation for the numbers in their data.

"Compared with their white counterparts, Asian Americans have a significantly higher risk for type 2 diabetes, despite having substantially lower BMI," the researchers wrote in their report. "Additional investigation of this disparity is warranted, with the aim of tailoring optimal diabetes prevention strategies to Asian Americans."

Some have suggested that a different scale be used to measure an Asian's type 2 diabetes risk. Currently, any person with a BMI between 25 and 30 is considered overweight, while anyone above 30 is considered obese. However, some experts from the World Health Organization have suggested that a BMI above 23 should put Asian individuals in the obese category, according to the Associated Press.