Asian-Americans, Pacific Islanders and Diabetes


Asian AmericansHalf of the increase in type 2 diabetes worldwide by 2025 is predicted to be in Asians and Pacific Islanders. Although data on the number of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have diabetes are limited, studies show that type 2 diabetes is a growing problem among some groups within this population.

  • In Hawaii, Native Hawaiians have more than twice the rate of diabetes as whites.
  • Asians are 20 percent less likely than non-Hispanic whites to die from diabetes.
  • In Hawaii, Native Hawaiians are 5.7 times as likely as whites living in Hawaii to die from diabetes.
  • Filipinos living in Hawaii have more than 3 times the death rate as whites living in Hawaii.

While there are a small number of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders with type 1 diabetes, most Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders with diabetes have type 2. This is due to the food choices of some Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, which have changed due to their migration to the United States and to modern times. Instead of their traditional plant- and fish-based diets, they are choosing foods with more animal protein, animal fats, and processed carbohydrates. (In addition, they have become less physically active. As a result, their chances of developing diabetes have increased.)

Excerpted and adapted from Diabetes in American Indians and Alaska Natives Fact Sheet (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases); National Institute of Health and Human Services: The Office of Minority Health.


Reviewed by Jason C. Baker, M.D. 06/11.

Last Modified Date: May 17, 2013

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by Brenda Bell
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