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​​​One in Two Asian Americans Develop Diabetes or Pre-diabetes in Their Lifetime

Despite having a lower body weight, Asian Americans are more likely than Caucasians to have diabetes. Diabetes is a rapidly growing health challenge among Asians and Pacific Islanders who have immigrated to the United States, affecting about 20 percent of Asian Americans; about 90 to 95 percent of Asians with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. In addition, 32 percent of Asian Americans have pre-diabetes, which means that one in two Asian Americans you meet may have diabetes or at risk of having diabetes. The higher rate of type 2 diabetes in Asian descents results from a combination of genetic and environmental influences.

Interestingly, the rate of diabetes in Chinese Americans is notably higher than the rate in the Chinese population living in rural China. Likewise, studies show that rates of diabetes are higher in Japanese Americans living in the U.S. compared to Japanese living in Japan, pointing to environment as an important contributing factor. On the other hand, second and third generation Japanese Americans, who are well acculturated in the mainstream American lifestyle, still have higher diabetes rates compared with Caucasians, suggesting genetics to also be an important factor.


About Diabetes

  • $322 billion: the cost for diabetes and pre-diabetes care in the United States per year.

  • Over 14.3% of the population in the United States has diabetes, 38.0% is pre-diabetic and at least 36.4% remains undiagnosed.

About Asian Americans

  • Between 2000 and 2010, the Asian population grew by 46 %, which was faster than any other ethnic group. In 2012, this population continued to be the fastest-growing ethnic group.

  • Currently, the Asian population represents 5.6 % of the total population in the country.

  • In the United States, the Chinese (4.0 million) were the largest detailed Asian group, followed by the Filipinos (3.4 million) and Asian Indians (3.2 million).

Diabetes in the Asian American Population

  • ​The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) in 2011 – 2012 showed that 20.6% of Asian Americans have diabetes and 32.2% of Asian Americans have pre-diabetes, and 50.9% of diabetes cases were undiagnosed which is higher than any other ethnic or racial group.

  • Diabetes is the 5th leading cause of death among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

  • According to data from the NYC Health Department, 48.5% of Asian American adults living in NYC have either diabetes or pre-diabetes.

  • According to a study in NYC, South Asians have about 5 times the odds of having diabetes as U.S. born Caucasians.

*To determine if you are overweight, check our Asian BMI Calculator.

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