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51% of Asian-Americans With Diabetes are Undiagnosed

Previous studies have shown increasing prevalence of diabetes in the United States, therefore researchers from the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a study to estimate the recent prevalence and to update U.S. trends in total diabetes, diagnosed diabetes, and undiagnosed diabetes.

The researchers conducted a cross-sectional study using National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data from 2011-2012. The survey consisted of a series of studies that combine interviews and physical exams to assess the health and nutritional status of about 26,000 adults and children. The prevalence of diabetes was defined using a previous diagnosis of diabetes or, if diabetes was not previously diagnosed, by an A1C level of 6.5% or greater, a fasting plasma glucose level of 126 mg/dl or greater, or a 2-hour plasma glucose level of 200 mg/dl or greater.

Among the groups studied, Caucasian participants had a prevalence rate of 11.3 percent, black participants 21.8 percent, Asian participants 20.6 percent, and Hispanic participants 22.6 percent. Results showed that the percentage of cases that were undiagnosed was higher among Asian-American participants (50.9% [95% CI, 38.3%-63.4%]; P = .004) than all other racial/ethnic groups. This means that 51% of Asian-Americans with diabetes are undiagnosed.

This study indicates that diabetes is more common among Asian-American, with a prevalence rate of slightly more than 1 in every 5 people. Researchers also noted that Asian-Americans often develop diabetes at a lower BMI than the general population. Based on this new data, the American Diabetes Association recommends all Asian-American be tested for diabetes at a BMI of 23 or higher.

Practice Pearls:

  • Among the groups studied, Caucasian participants had a prevalence rate of 11.3 percent, black participants 21.8 percent, Asian participants 20.6 percent, and Hispanic participants 22.6 percent.
  • Results showed that the percentage of cases that were undiagnosed was higher among Asian-American participants (50.9% [95% CI, 38.3%-63.4%]; P = .004) than all other racial/ethnic groups. This means that 51% of Asian-Americans with diabetes are undiagnosed.
  • Researchers also noted that Asian-Americans often develop diabetes at a lower BMI than the general population. Based on this new data, the American Diabetes Association recommends all Asian-American be tested for diabetes at a BMI of 23 or higher.

Menke A, Casagrande S, Geiss L, Cowie CC. “Prevalence of and Trends in Diabetes Among Adults in the United States, 1988-2012.” JAMA. 2015;314(10):1021-1029.