Leisure time physical activity and metabolic syndrome in Asian Indian immigrants residing in northern California

Kiran B Misra, Sarah W Endemann, Mandeep Ayer
Ethnicity & Disease 2005, 15 (4): 627-34

OBJECTIVE: Immigrant Asian Indians possess major lipid and non-lipid risk factors that constitute features characteristic of metabolic syndrome. First-line therapy recognized in risk management of this syndrome is weight reduction and increased physical activity. We investigated the relationship of intensity and duration of leisure time physical activity (LTPA) to physiological indices of metabolic syndrome in Asian Indian immigrants.

METHODS: Fifty-six apparently healthy men (43.7 years +/- 7.1; body mass index [BMI] 21-34) and women (43.1 years +/- 6.9; BMI 21-36) were screened to participate in this cross-sectional study. Leisure time physical activity (LTPA) was determined by Minnesota LTPA questionnaire. Anthropometric measurements were recorded by using standard procedures. Blood samples taken after an overnight fast were analyzed for measures defined by the NCEP ATP III criteria for metabolic syndrome.

RESULTS: Prevalence of metabolic syndrome was 33.9% (age 29-59 years; average BMI 26.1 +/- 3.7) suggesting development of syndrome at younger age. While participants reported little LTPA, men were more active than women (total activity metabolic index (AMI) per week: 533 vs 204, respectively). In men, moderate activity was associated with a lower prevalence of metabolic syndrome, lower fasting glucose (r=-0.44), 2-hour glucose tolerance (r=-0.40), and lower serum triglyceride (r=-0.63). Only heavy activity was inversely associated with waist girth for both men (r=-0.46) and women (r=-0.41). Leisure activity levels reported by women were not significantly associated with any other risk factors. Low levels of physical activity were associated with prevalence of low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), but reported LTPA levels were not significantly associated with favorable changes in serum HDL-C or blood pressure in both sexes.

CONCLUSION: We provide evidence that Asian Indians who are physically active have a more favorable metabolic syndrome risk factor profile. Results highlight need to encourage physical activity in Asian Indian immigrants, particularly women, to reduce prevalence of metabolic syndrome.

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