Research and Scholarship

Racial, Ethnic Disparities in Diabetes Treatment

KPSOM Professor presents recommendations to reduce health disparities at the American Diabetes Association scientific meeting

July 01, 2024

KPSOM Faculty Member Quyen Ngo-Metzger

KPSOM Faculty Member Quyen Ngo-Metzger

Quyen Ngo-Metzger, MD, MPH, Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine (KPSOM) Professor of Health Systems Science, was invited to present how best to address racial and ethnic disparities in the screening and diagnosis of diabetes during the American Diabetes Association’s (ADA) 84th Scientific Sessions, which took place June 21 through 24 in Orlando, Florida. 

“Population-based studies have found that Asian persons overall have higher percentages of abdominal adiposity, at any given weight classification (normal, overweight, obese), compared to white persons,” said Dr. Ngo-Metzger. “Given this observation, the World Health Organization recommends a lower Body Mass Index (BMI) threshold (23 kg/m2 as opposed to 25 kg/m2) for screening for diabetes among Asians.”

Dr. Ngo-Metzger further stated that the ADA and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force both recommend screening Asian American adults at a lower BMI compared to whites because they are at a higher risk for diabetes compared to white Americans at similar weights. Furthermore, Asian Americans are less likely to be screened for diabetes, leaving this group more vulnerable to being undiagnosed and untreated. “Using this lower BMI threshold for screening would decrease the rate of undiagnosed diabetes in Asian Americans and can potentially decrease diabetes-related morbidity and mortality,” said Dr. Ngo-Metzger who is a principal faculty of the KPSOM Health Equity Research Core (HERC). HERC supports health equity research by students, faculty and staff of the school, and serves as a resource to others across the Kaiser Permanente regions.