Uncovering physiological mechanisms for health disparities in type 2 diabetes

Amanda E. Staiano, Deirdre M. Harrington, Neil M. Johannsen, Robert L. Newton. Jr., Mark A. Sarzynski, Damon L. Swift, Peter T. Katzmarzyk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Type 2 diabetes (T2D) prevalence in the United States is significantly higher in African Americans vs Whites. Yet, the physiological mechanisms contributing to this health disparity have been poorly described. To design effective strategies to reduce this disparity, there is a need to determine whether racial differences in diabetes prevalence are attributable to modifiable or non-modifiable factors. This review synthesizes and critically evaluates the potential physiological and genetic mechanisms that may contribute to the higher susceptibility of African Americans to T2D. These mechanisms include: 1) obesity and fat distribution; 2) metabolic flexibility; 3) muscle physiology; 4) energy expenditure and fitness; and 5) genetics. We focus on the clinical significance of findings and limitations of the recent literature. (Ethn Dis. 2015;25[1]:31-37).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-37
Number of pages7
JournalEthn. Dis.
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2015


  • cardiorespiratory fitness
  • energy expenditure
  • genetics
  • glucose homeostasis
  • muscle physiology
  • obesity
  • race differences
  • African American
  • article
  • body fat distribution
  • ethnology
  • fitness
  • pathophysiology
  • health care disparity
  • human
  • muscle metabolism
  • non insulin dependent diabetes mellitus
  • prevalence
  • United States


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