The effect of body fat distribution on ethnic differences in cardiometabolic risk factors of Chinese and Europeans

Iris A. Lesser, Danijela Gasevic, Scott A. Lear

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15 Citations (Scopus)


This study aimed to examine the differences in body fat distribution and cardiometabolic risk between individuals of Chinese and European origin and the role of body fat distribution on ethnic differences in cardiometabolic risk. A total of 418 participants from the Multicultural Community Health Assessment Trial were assessed for visceral adipose tissue (VAT), subcutaneous abdominal adipose tissue (SAT), anthropometric variables, blood pressure, and lipid, insulin, and glucose levels. Multiple regression analyses were split by sex and adjusted for appropriate covariates in model 1a and further adjusted for VAT in model 1b or SAT in model 1c. A secondary model replaced body mass index (BMI) with waist circumference (WC). Chinese males had higher levels of triglycerides, insulin, homeostasis model assessment, and SAT than European males, as well as higher total cholesterol (TC), glucose, and VAT in the model adjusted for WC. Chinese females had higher glucose levels than European females after adjustment for either BMI or WC. When VAT was added to the models, differences in cardiometabolic risk factors remained significant but were attenuated between Chinese and European males and females; SAT did not attenuate the ethnic difference in cardiometabolic risk. These findings suggest that the higher VAT levels seen in the Chinese population do not fully account for the ethnic disparities in these risk factors. Given the observed interethnic difference in body composition, current BMI and WC cutoffs might be misleading when it comes to identifying Chinese individuals at risk for type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)701-706
Number of pages6
JournalApplied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Abdominal adiposity
  • Cardiometabolic risk
  • Chinese
  • Ethnicity
  • Obesity
  • Visceral adipose tissue
  • Waist circumference

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