ISSN 1470-3947 (print) | ISSN 1479-6848 (online)

Endocrine Abstracts (2017) 50 P232 | DOI: 10.1530/endoabs.50.P232

Lifestyle patterns and diabetes risk in second generation South Asians

Ajitha Arunthavarajah


Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK.


South Asians are six times more likely to get diabetes than Europeans. One of the main factors linked with this increased risk is lifestyle factors. Around the late 1950s, those who lived in South Asia had a diet rich in carbohydrates and sugar. However, this was balanced through their exercising habits, as many were hard working labourers who had to physically strain themselves through manual work, therefore burning off those calories appropriately. The lack of public transport or cars in rural areas meant that travelling was through walking or cycling, maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, the following generations who immigrated to the Western countries, while keeping up with the South Asian food items and diet, adopted the Western lifestyle associated with obesity. Lifestyle changes meant that people had access to unhealthy food more easily, and luxurious lives lead to a decrease in physical work. This project aims to identify to what extent second generation South Asians living in the UK have adopted the Western lifestyle and highlight the possible risk factors.

A questionnaire aimed at second generation South Asians was devised and uploaded on Facebook. A total of 42 responses were obtained. 73.8% of participants consider their diet to be both western and Asian and 66.7% consume rice more than twice per week. 26.2% consume fast food between 6–10 times per month. 50% stated that their level of exercise was walking only. The younger South Asian generation seems to be adhering to the South Asian diet and over a quarter also consumes a Western diet linked to obesity while carrying out low to moderate levels of exercise. This further exacerbates their genetic risk of diabetes. There is a need to provide more support and guidance to this specific group, educating and preventing diabetes from early lifestyle modifications.

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