People of Hispanic, African-American, and Asian descent could be at high risk for factors related to heart disease even if they are not overweight or obese, according to the lead author of a new study.
The research, published this week in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that among people of normal weight, South Asians were twice as likely as whites to have risk factors for heart disease.
That likelihood was 80 percent greater for Hispanics and 50 percent for blacks and people of Chinese descent, the research found.
“One of the messages of the paper is that in using overweight and obesity as the main criteria, clinicians are likely to miss a large number of people, especially in race-ethnic minority populations, that are at high risk but are normal weight,” Unjali Gujral, a postdoctoral fellow with the Emory Global Diabetes Research Center and the study’s lead author, told NBC News by phone Tuesday.
Body mass index (BMI), a height-to-weight ratio, is used to determine whether someone is overweight or obese. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent group of health experts, recommends that doctors use this ratio as the main criteria to screen for risk factors associated with heart disease and diabetes, according to the study.