Some ethnic groups are more likely than others to store dangerous fat around their internal organs as they gain weight, according to a new study.
This organ-hugging fat, which can lead to diabetes and coronary artery disease, is more common among people from South Asia, the Canadian researchers reported in the July 28 online edition of the journal PLoS ONE.
“The new 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 in a university news release. “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 (“good”) cholesterol and more abdominal obesity.