Conflict & Justice

Diabetes on the rise among Asians

This woman is taking part in a diet study run by this Diabetes center in Boston. The researchers want her to eat a traditionally Asian diet, so she eats stir fries, pears, Japanese style juice and of course there's brown rice. Surrendering her fridge isn't easy and a lot of people drop out of the study, but not this woman whose mom was recently diagnosed with diabetes. She says the four month long study diet seems like a small sacrifice. Researchers are conducting this study to stop an epidemic and they need all the help they can get. Diabetes is relatively new among Asians and Asian Americans and so many new people are getting it. But scientists say they still have a lot to learn about the disease and why East Asians are twice as likely to develop the disease than Caucasians, and why Asians living in big cities are four times more likely to get diabetes than Asians living out of big cities. Their genes don't change but their eating habits do�food is less healthy and more abundant. This mother was the first to develop diabetes in her family, but she also never worried about eating right because Asians develop fat at much lower body weights so they don't realize they have diabetes until it's too late. This doctor says Asians tend to store fat around their organs so it's hard to tell their overweight because it might be hidden around the pancreas, the organ that regulates insulin in the body. If a change in diet affects where Asians store fat, it could be key to understanding the epidemic. The researchers from earlier are searching for any small clues that will tell them how diet affects Asians. They haven't analyzed all their diet yet but already they say they've been surprised by some of the findings. The Asian diet for example is higher in plant proteins. Still it's hard to predict how diet affects any one person. It's surprising results like this that's keeping researchers in the dark about Asians and diabetes but there is one thing they do know. This researcher says we know what we can do to prevent diabetes, which means maintaining health and eating the right things.

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