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Lower insulin sensitivity found In Mexican-Americans, regardless of behavioral and metabolic factors

(October 31, 2002) - Bethesda, MD The population of Mexican-born individuals in the United States is 8.5 million. Nearly 60 percent of American Latinos are of Mexican origin, and the number of people living in the US who are of Mexican origin is more than 20 million. The population explosion of this group in America is "old news."

Perhaps the most significant -- and least known -- consequence of the growth of this demographic group is to the nation's health care system. Not because of the current issues surrounding the delivery of primary care services but for the future services that will be necessary to diagnose and treat a population highly susceptible to type 2 diabetes.

Background Mexican-Americans are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) two to three times more frequently than are non-Hispanic white (NHW) Americans. Scientists have found that insulin resistance is key in the cause for the disease; studies have revealed that Mexican-Americans of both genders and all ages demonstrate greater levels of insulin resistance when compared to the NHW population.

Although the reasons are unclear, some suggest that genetic factors could explain the higher prevalence of insulin resistance in this Hispanic population group, considering that 35 percent of their genetic Mexican-American make-up is attributable to Native American ancestry.

It is also possible that lifestyle factors, including diet and exercise, contribute to the ethnic differences in insulin resistance. Visceral adiposity (obesity), exercise, and dietary fat have all been shown to impact peripheral insulin resistance.

The Study A new research study that compares behavioral, metabolic, and molecular behavior between Mexican-Americans and non-Hispanic whites offers new clues on why public health officials need to act on this potential problem now. At the same time, the current study findings can provide an important first step to this problem that
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Contact: Donna Krupa
djkrupa1@aol.com
703-527-7357
American Physiological Society
5-Nov-2002


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