Diabetes and Coronary Heart Disease in Filipino-American Women

Role of growth and life-course socioeconomic factors

  1. Claudia Langenberg, MD12,
  2. Maria Rosario G. Araneta, PHD1,
  3. Jaclyn Bergstrom, MS1,
  4. Michael Marmot, FRCP2 and
  5. Elizabeth Barrett-Connor, MD1
  1. 1Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, School of Medicine, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California
  2. 2Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London Medical School, London, U.K.
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Professor Barrett-Connor, Family and Preventive Medicine, School of Medicine, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Dr., La Jolla, CA 92093-0607. E-mail: ebarrettconnor{at}ucsd.edu


OBJECTIVE—To investigate associations between adult markers of childhood growth and the prevalence of diabetes and coronary heart disease (CHD) in Filipino-American women and to determine the role of social and educational differences, including the influence of social mobility between childhood and adulthood.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS—Socioeconomic disadvantage and poor infant growth, resulting in short leg length, may contribute to the dramatically increased risk of diabetes and CHD in Filipino-American women, but this has not been investigated. This study is a cross-sectional study of 389 Filipino-American women (age 58.7 ± 9.4 years [mean ± SD]). Diabetes was defined by 1999 World Health Organization criteria and CHD by ischemic electrocardiogram changes, Rose angina, a history of myocardial infarction, or revascularization surgery. A score of social mobility (0–4) was calculated by summarizing childhood and adult financial circumstances.

RESULTS—Diabetes prevalence (31.4%) was not associated with measures of growth but was significantly lower in women with greater education, childhood and adult income, or social mobility score. Compared with Filipinas who were poorest in childhood and adulthood, respective odds ratios (95% CI) for diabetes were 0.55 (0.18–1.68), 0.19 (0.06–0.62), and 0.11 (0.03–0.42), down to 0.07 (0.01–0.51) in the most advantaged women (P < 0.0001). Family history of diabetes [5.14 (2.72–9.70)] and larger waist [1.07 per cm (1.03–1.10)] were also significant predictors in multiple adjusted models. In contrast, CHD prevalence (22.4%) was most strongly associated with leg length, but not trunk length; compared with individuals with the shortest legs, respective odds ratios (95% CI) for CHD were 0.60 (0.31–1.19), 0.53 (0.26–1.05), and 0.44 (0.22–0.91) in the tallest group, in age- (Ptrend = 0.02) and multiple-adjusted models (Ptrend = 0.01).

CONCLUSIONS—Socioeconomic disadvantage contributes to the high prevalence of diabetes in Filipinas. Factors limiting early growth of the legs may increase the risk of CHD in this comparatively short population.


  • A table elsewhere in this issue shows conventional and Système International (SI) units and conversion factors for many substances.

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    • Accepted December 6, 2006.
    • Received July 5, 2006.
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