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US News & World Report: Asian Americans Face Health Risks of Being Obese

Asian Americans don’t have to look like this to be obese

Many Asian Americans who may not look obese face the adverse health risks as those who are, according to a story in US News & World Report.

Soonsik Kim is a prime example. She weighs 140 pounds. That’s 25 pounds lighter than the average American woman.  Her body mass index or BMI is 23.3 which is considered normal. Yet her doctors tell her she’s at risk for diabetes, a disorder often connected to obesity.

The American Diabetes Association recommends Asian Americans get screened for diabetes if you have a BMI of 23 or higher compared to 25 or higher in the general population. By the ADA’s standards, Kim is obese.

“The educated [Asian] population knows that they’re getting diabetes and hypertension and all these things at a much lower BMI, but if you’re in a culture where everybody’s really fat and you’re thin, you tend to go around and think, ‘Well, I’m protected,'” says Dr. Michael Jensen of Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. “But [you] may not be.”

Insulin pen
Insulin pen used to treat diabetics

It may all come down to body fat. Asian Americans tend to have more body fat than others. Asians tend to collect excess weight around the middles which can lead to obesity related complications such as heart disease.

One other bad sign, Asian Americans aren’t as physically active as the rest of the population.

“Even though Asian Americans and Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders aren’t part of the national narrative [on obesity] … our communities do know that this is something that we have to prioritize,” says Pedro Arista, a program manager at the Asian and Pacific Islander American Health Forum.

You can read how the Asian diet may contribute to problems of obesity in Asian Americans in US News & World Report.
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