People who are of south Asian origin are more likely to become diabetic due to the way their muscles burn fat, it has been revealed in a new study. Scientists at Glasgow University found that people from South Asia have muscles that do not burn fat as well as people from Europen, and that this increases the risk of diabetes by contributing to a less effective response to insulin .
It was already known that people of south Asian origin were more prone to become overweight and develop type 2 diabetes than those living in western countries, but this increase had not previously been explained just by being overweight.
The study discovered significant differences between the skeletal muscles of south Asians and Europeans; these muscles are used to burn the fat in the body. The team found that the expression of genes central to fat metabolism was lower in the muscles of south Asians, which results in an impairment of their ability to process fat. This can push up the risk of insulin resistance, a factor in the development of type 2 diabetes.
Jason Gill, who led the research, commented “Our results suggest that the ability of south Asians’ muscles to use fat as a fuel is lower than in Europeans. In other words, if a south Asian man and a European man were walking alongside each other at the same speed, the south Asian man’s muscles would be burning less fat and this may contribute to a greater risk of developing diabetes.”
Victoria King, from the charity Diabetes UK, also said “This new insight could provide the basis for future studies looking at lifestyle, or drug interventions to enhance the uptake and burning of fat in muscles, reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes in this high-risk group.”

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