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The changing landscape of diabetes prevalence among first-generation Asian immigrants in California from 2003 to 2013.



The prevalence of diabetes mellitus (DM) is increasing rapidly, particularly in Asia. Asian immigrants in Western countries are a fast-growing population who carry both intrinsic risks due to their genetic background and extrinsic risks associated with Western lifestyles. However, recent trends in diabetes prevalence and associated risk factors among Asian immigrants in the USA are not well understood.

Research design and methods

We examined adults aged 18 and older from the recent California Health Interview Survey data sets from 2003 to 2013 to determine prevalence of known DM among first-generation Asian immigrants and whites. The impact of various DM risk factors in Asian immigrants relative to whites was analyzed and multivariable regression models were constructed to obtain adjusted DM risk in Asian immigrants versus in whites.


Across the study span, we identified 2007 first-generation Asian immigrants and 14 668 whites as having known DM or prediabetes mellitus (pre-DM). From 2003 to 2013, the prevalence of DM and pre-DM combined rose from 6.8% to 12.4% in Asian immigrants and 5.5% to 6.9% in whites. Much of the increase could be attributed to pre-DM, which rose from 0.7% to 3.2% in Asian immigrants during the study period. The impacts of age and body mass index on DM risk were consistently greater in Asian immigrants than in whites. Non-DM Asian immigrants were found less likely to engage in physical activity than were non-DM whites. After adjustment of various associated factors, Asian immigrants were more likely than whites to have DM and this relative risk for DM gradually increased across the study period.


A rising prevalence of known DM and particularly pre-DM among Asian immigrants in California was observed during the previous decade. To reduce the burden of diabetes and its complications, future strategies should consider specific risk factors for this ethnic group, including encouraging physical activity.

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