Increased risk factors for diabetes and heart disease in African-American children

February 27, 2000

African-Americans are about twice as likely to have diabetes or to die of stroke than are whites. Lindquist et al., in a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, have examined risk factors for diabetes and vascular disease that appear in childhood. After adjusting for body composition, social class, and dietary patterns, the authors found that African American children exhibited more risk factors than white children.

Ninety-five African American and white children, averaging 10 years of age, were part of a multi-year study in Birmingham, Alabama. The research included a series of three 24-hour dietary recalls, and measurements of blood cholesterol, insulin sensitivity, total body fat mass, and social class. The African American children consumed twice as much fruit and 25% more vegetables than the white children, but 40% less dairy products. Nevertheless, they had significantly lower insulin sensitivity and greater acute insulin response, both risk factors for diabetes. Additionally, total cholesterol, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, tended to be higher in African American children than in white children.

Although dietary patterns did not appear to account for a major portion of the ethnic differences in disease risk, the authors cautioned that the diets in this study were generally of poor quality according to national recommendations. Consumption of all the major food groups in both groups was below national guidelines, and nearly half of the daily energy intake came from the "food pyramid tip" category of added sugar and fat. These diets might not be considered representative, though the greater consumption of vegetables and lower dairy intake by African American children has been previously confirmed in large, nationally representative samples of children.
Lindquist, CH et al. Role of dietary factors in ethnic differences in early risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Am J Clin Nutr 2000; 71:725-738.

For more information contact: Dr. Michael I. Goran at

This media release is provided by The American Society for Clinical Nutrition, to provide current information on nutrition-related research. This information should not be construed as medical advice. If you have a medical concern, consult your doctor.

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

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