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Young Black, Hispanic Women Tend to Develop 'Love Handles'

Midsection weight gain could increase their risk of type 2 diabetes, researchers warn

TUESDAY, July 21 (HealthDay News) -- Black and Hispanic women in their 20s tend to accumulate more fat in their midsection than their male and older counterparts, possibly putting them at a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes, new research suggests.

The study, by researchers at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., found black and Hispanic young adults tended to pack on both visceral adipose tissue (VAT), the fat found in the abdominal cavity around internal organs, and subcutaneous abdominal tissue (SAT), the visible, pinchable fat known as "love handles." However, the increase was notably higher in women than men.

"Our data may help to further identify unique populations at risk for type 2 diabetes and those for whom behavioral intervention might be most effective," study author Dr. Kristen G. Hairston, an assistant professor of endocrinology and metabolism at Wake Forest, said in a news release.

The study, published online in June in the journal Diabetes Care, found that VAT increased by an average of 18 square centimeters (cm2) in the young black women and by 12 cm2 in the Hispanic women over a five-year period, while the men's increases were 30 percent to 40 percent lower. VAT has been linked to metabolic issues in people, and previous studies show that such increases are common among those with type 2 diabetes.

The increase in SAT was even greater: 89 cm2 for black women in their 20s and 53 cm2 for the same-aged Hispanic women, the researchers found.

The study, which looked at blacks and Hispanics up to age 69, found that fat accumulation generally declined in the older age groups.

The findings are consistent with others that compared body-mass index and waist circumference among similar age, racial and gender groups.

More information

The American Diabetes Association has more about type 2 diabetes.

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, news release, July 2009

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