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Visceral-to-peripheral adiposity ratio: a critical determinant of sex and ethnic differences in cardiovascular risks among Asian Indians and African Creoles in Mauritius.

BACKGROUND/AIMS: Coronary heart disease morbidity and mortality are higher in people of South Asian origin than in those of African origin. We investigated whether as young adults without diabetes, people in Mauritius of South Asian descent (Indians) would show a more adverse cardiovascular risk profile that those of predominantly African descent (Creoles), and whether this could be explained by ethnic differences in visceral adiposity or other fat distribution patterns.

METHODS: The study was conducted in 189 young non-physically active adults, with the following measurements conducted after an overnight fast: anthropometry (weight, height, waist circumference), whole-body and regional body composition by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, blood pressure, and blood assays for glycemic (glucose and HbA1c) and lipid profile (triglycerides and cholesterols).

RESULTS: The results indicate higher serum triglycerides and lower HDL cholesterol in men than in women, and in Indians than in Creoles (p < 0.001). No significant differences due to sex or ethnicity are observed in body mass index and waist circumference, but indices of visceral adiposity (visceral/android, visceral/subcutaneous) and visceral-to-peripheral adiposity ratio (visceral/gynoid, visceral/limb) were significantly higher in men than in women, and in Indians than in Creoles. The significant effects of sex and ethnicity on blood lipid profile were either completely abolished or reduced to a greater extent after adjusting for the ratio of visceral-to-peripheral adiposity than for visceral adiposity per se.

CONCLUSIONS: In young adults in Mauritius, Indians show a more adverse pattern of body fat distribution and blood lipid risk profile than Creoles. Differences in their fat distribution patterns, however, only partially explain their differential atherogenic lipid risk profile, amid a greater impact of visceral-to-peripheral adiposity ratio than that of visceral adiposity per se on sex and ethnic differences in cardiovascular risks; the former possibly reflecting the ratio of hazardous (visceral) adiposity and protective (peripheral) superficial subcutaneous adiposity.

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