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.
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.
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.
"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.