Comparing the risk of obesity-related morbidity and mortality in different ethnic groups

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DOI: 10.21522/TIJPH.2013.04.02.Art010

Authors : Ana Cristina Diniz Silva


Objective: This paper aims to review the current literature in order to compare different ethnic groups with respect to the known racial disparities in the risk of obesity-related morbidity and mortality, thus orienting clinical practitioners for a better practice in light of evidence-based data.

Methods: Literature review using key words - obesity, metabolic syndrome, ethnic differences, BMI, cardiovascular risk - through PubMed database from 2000 to now.

Results: The prevalence of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular diseases as complications of overweight and obesity are variable among different ethnicities worldwide. Recent studies contra-indicate the use of global cutoff points for measures like body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference (WC) as it has been demonstrated that, for similar BMI and WC values, different populations present distinct patterns of body shape and fat deposition. For instance, South Asians are at increased risk of cardio-metabolic disorders even with a lesser degree of body adiposity.

Conclusions: Instead of a direct cause-effect relationship, biologic/genetic and environmental factors like socioeconomic status, culture, religion, health habits, geographic location, and their intricate interactions form the complex basis of ethnic disparities on predisposing to obesity-related diseases, thus the importance of an individualized analysis of the obesity indexes, in order to optimize patient management and to reduce health risks.

Keywords: obesity, BMI, adiposity, ethnicities, metabolic syndrome, diabetes


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