Lean yet unhealthy: Asian American adults had higher risks for metabolic syndrome than non-hispanic white adults with the same body mass index: Evidence from NHANES 2011–2016

Lin Zhu, Wei J. Yang, Cody B. Spence, Aisha Bhimla, Grace X. Ma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations

Abstract

(1) Background: Despite having consistently lower rates of obesity than other ethnic groups, Asian Americans (AAs) are more likely to be identified as metabolically obese, suggesting an ethnic-specific association between BMI and cardiometabolic outcomes. The goal of this study was to provide an estimate of metabolic syndrome (MetS) prevalence among AAs using national survey data and to compare this rate to that of non-Hispanic Whites (NHWs) over the BMI continuum. (2) Methods: Using the NHANES 2011–2016 data, we computed age-adjusted, gender-specific prevalence of MetS and its individual components for three BMI categories. Furthermore, we conducted multivariate binary logistic regression to examine the risk of MetS in AAs compared to NHWs, controlling for sociodemographic and lifestyle factors. The analysis sample consisted of 2121 AAs and 6318 NHWs. (3) Results: Among AAs, the prevalence of MetS and its components increased with higher BMI levels, with overall prevalence being 5.23% for BMI < 23, 38.23% for BMI of 23–27.4, and 77.68% for BMI ≥ 27.5 in men; and 18.61% for BMI < 23, 47.82% for BMI of 23–27.4, and 67.73% for BMI ≥ 27.5 in women. We also found that for those with a BMI > 23, AAs had a higher predicted risk of MetS than their NHW counterparts of the same BMI level, in both men and women. (4) Conclusions: Our findings support the use of lower BMI ranges for defining overweight and obesity in Asian populations, which would allow for earlier and more appropriate screening for MetS and may better facilitate prevention efforts.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1518
JournalHealthcare (Switzerland)
Volume9
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Asian American
  • Body mass index
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Racial differences

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