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Some Ethnic Groups More Vulnerable to Dangerous Fat

South Asians tend to store fat around organs, raising coronary artery disease risk, study finds. This organ-hugging fat, which can lead to diabetes and coronary artery disease, is more common among people from South Asia, the researchers reported. “The study showed South Asians have less space to store fat below the skin than white Caucasians,” Dr. Sonia Anand, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, said. “Their excess fat, therefore, overflows to ectopic compartments, in the abdomen and liver where it may affect function.” This extra fat surrounding vital organs, known as visceral fat, is also associated with metabolic problems, including elevated blood sugar and abnormal blood fats — risk factors that ultimately lead to coronary artery disease, the study authors explained. The researchers found that, compared with white people with the same body mass index (BMI), people who originate from the Indian subcontinent have more risk factors for heart disease including type 2 diabetes, low HDL cholesterol and more abdominal obesity. For the clinician, this also means that individuals of South Asian heritage need to be screened for the presence of heart disease and diabetes at lower BMIs. PLoS ONE, July 28, 2011 online edition