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Acculturation makes Asian Indian US immigrants susceptible to chronic diseases

Jairia Dela Cruz
05 Jul 2018

Acculturation appears to predispose Asian Indian immigrants in the US to type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease (CVD), with the adoption of American lifestyle behaviours having an impact on glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) levels, according to a study.

The results provide firm basis for a culturally tailored dietary education and physical activity interventions in promoting positive lifestyle changes that have the potential to reduce and/or prevent cardiometabolic risks among US Asian Indians, said principal investigator Dr Nitha Mathew Joseph from the University of Texas Health Science.

In the study, Mathew Joseph and colleagues examined the mediating role of physical activity and dietary behaviour between acculturation and cardiometabolic risk factors among 1,038 adult Asian Indians in seven US sites (mean age 48.54 years). Acculturation was assessed using the Acculturation Scale for Southeast Asians, whereas dietary behaviour and physical activity were calculated using the Health Promotion Lifestyle Profile II subscales.

Path analyses found dietary behaviour and physical activity to have a significant mediating effect on the relationship between acculturation and two risk factors for diabetes and CVD, namely HbA1C and HDL-C. [ADA 2018, abstract 247-OR]

Dietary behaviour specifically mediated the association between acculturation and HbA1C (β=0.004; p=0.047), whereas physical activity mediated that between acculturation and HDL (β=0.08; p=0.011). All other mediation models were not significant (p>0.05).

“Asian Indians are the second largest Asian immigrants in the US and have higher rates of diabetes, metabolic syndrome and CVD when compared to the general US population and other immigrant groups,” Mathew Joseph noted. “Acculturation levels influence the lifestyle practices, and studies have reported acculturated individuals [indeed] have increased risks of chronic diseases.”

She emphasized the need to conduct more investigations to identify or clarify the mechanisms by which acculturation affects other cardiometabolic risk factors, including smoking, alcohol consumption, psychosocial factors and abdominal obesity.

“Ultimately, better understanding and prevention strategies will reduce the health and economic burden associated with these chronic conditions among Asian Indians,” she added.

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Most Read Articles
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