Chinese Adults More Susceptible to Obesity-Related Health Complications than Other Ethnic Groups

February 11, 2021
Patrick Campbell

An analysis of data from an ethnically diverse cohort of more than 120k patients indicates Chinese adults were more susceptible to obesity-related health complications, such as hypertension, than other racial/ethnic groups.

New research suggests Chinese adults may be more susceptible to obesity-related health risks, such as high blood pressure and increased triglycerides, than other racial or ethnic groups.

An analysis comparing data from a major national Chinese study and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), results indicate Chinese adults appeared to be more affected by obesity-related health risks compared to Black, non-Hispanic White, and Mexican American individuals.

"Our study demonstrated that Chinese adults were more susceptible to the effects of overall obesity and abdominal fat accumulation on blood pressure and triglycerides than those in other racial and ethnic populations," said study investigator Weiqing Wang, MD, PhD, of the Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine in Shanghai, China, in a statement. "These racial and ethnic differences in susceptibility of obesity-related health problems should be noticed while screening for high-risk individuals using BMI and waist circumference."

With the prevalence of obesity expected to continue growing in the near future, Wang and a team of colleagues sought to further explore racial and ethnic differences in obesity-related health complications. To do so, they designed the current study as an analysis of data from the China Noncommunicable Disease Surveillance 2010 and NHANES data from 2005-2016.

From NHANES, investigators obtained data related to 51,925 individuals of Mexican American (n=5316), non-Hispanic White (n=13,487), Black (n=6890), and Asian (n=1969) race/ethnicity. From the China Noncommunicable Disease Surveillance 2010, investigators obtained data related to 98,658 Chinese individuals.

For the purpose of analysis, investigators designed a linear regression analysis between waist circumference and BMI to determine residual waist circumference for each patient. Final analyses were designed to assess and compare associations of BMI, waist circumference, and residual waist circumference with cardiometabolic risk factors, including measurements of systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, HbA1c, triglycerides, HDL-C, and LDL-C, among different races/ethnicities.

Upon analysis, investigators found both BMI and waist circumference were positively associated with systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, HbA1c, triglycerides, and LDL-C and negatively associated with HDL-C. Further analysis indicated residual waist circumference was associated with all cardiometabolic risk factors in Chinese patients and most of the factors in non-Hispanic White and Black adults, but not among other races/ethnicities.

In standardized regression analyses, coefficients of the associations between obesity metrics and risk factors indicated obesity metrics had a greater influence on systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, and triglyceride levels among Chinese adults than those of other racial/ethnic groups included in the study.

Investigators caution against over-interpretation of study results and called for future studies to further analyze racial/ethnic differences in obesity-related health complications in other groups and with additional biomarkers.

“Beyond genetics, difference in culture and social experiences also have impact on health behaviors, environmental exposures, and contribute to the different associations between obesity metrics and cardiometabolic risk factors,” wrote investigators

This study, “Chinese adults are more susceptible to effects of overall obesity and fat distribution on cardiometabolic risk factors,” was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.