Trends in the Prevalence of Type 2 Diabetes in Asians Versus Whites

Results from the United States National Health Interview Survey, 1997–2008

  1. Hsin-Chieh Yeh, PHD1,2
  1. 1Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland
  2. 2Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland
  1. Corresponding author: Hsin-Chieh Yeh, hyeh1{at}


OBJECTIVE To examine trends in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes and related conditions in Asian Americans compared with non-Hispanic whites.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS We analyzed data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) from 1997 to 2008 to construct a nationally representative sample of 230,503 U.S. adults aged ≥18 years. Of these adults, 11,056 identified themselves as Asian Americans and 219,447 as non-Hispanic whites.

RESULTS The age- and sex-adjusted prevalence of type 2 diabetes was higher in Asian Americans than in whites throughout the study period (4.3–8.2% vs. 3.8–6.0%), and there was a significant upward trend in both ethnic groups (P < 0.01). BMI also was increased in both groups, but age- and sex-adjusted BMI was consistently lower in Asian Americans. In fully adjusted logistic regression models, Asian Americans remained 30–50% more likely to have diabetes than their white counterparts. In addition, Asian Indians had the highest odds of prevalent type 2 diabetes, followed by Filipinos, other Asians, and Chinese.

CONCLUSIONS Compared with their white counterparts, Asian Americans have a significantly higher risk for type 2 diabetes, despite having substantially lower BMI. Additional investigation of this disparity is warranted, with the aim of tailoring optimal diabetes prevention strategies to Asian Americans.

  • Received April 25, 2010.
  • Accepted October 27, 2010.

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  1. Diabetes Care
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