Hispanics are more likely to store fat in their pancreas, but less likely to be able to produce more insulin to compensate for this excess fat, putting them at higher risk for type 2 diabetes, according to a new study released September 11 in Diabetes Care.
“Not all people who are overweight or obese and who have insulin resistance go on to develop diabetes,” Richard Bergman, director of the Cedars-Sinai Diabetes and Obesity Research Institute in Los Angeles, and study lead author, said in a Cedars-Sinai news release. “If we can determine who is most likely to develop diabetes and why, then we can make strides toward preventing it in those individuals.”
While the study can not draw a direct cause and effect relating to ethnicity and increased chance of diabetes, the researchers observed a correlation between the two.
The study compared white, black and Latino participants, similarly overweight and who shared many of the same pre-diabetic symptoms.
“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,” said Lidia Szczepaniak, PhD, director of magnetic resonance spectroscopy at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute and Biomedical Imaging Research Institute. “In our study, we found Latinos were especially vulnerable, as they tended to store more fat in the pancreas and their compensatory insulin secretion was entirely suppressed.”
The study comes after statistics from the U.S. Center for Disease Control in 2010 showed that Mexican-American adults are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes compared to non-Hispanic whites, and in 2008 Latinos were 1.5 times as likely to die from diabetes.