Examining the Connection Between Elevated Triglyceride Levels and Risk for Diabetes in Latino Adults

Document Type


Publication Date

April 2010

Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Dawn Weiler


Aims: Identify the link, if any, between elevated triglyceride levels and risk for type 2 diabetes in Latino adults residing in southwest Idaho. Methods: Anthropometric measures (height; weight; neck, hip and abdominal girth; thigh skinfold; tricepts and suprailium skinfold on females; chest and abdominal skinfold on males), fasting glucose, insulin, hemoglobin A1C and lipid profiles were collected on 148 Latino adults (female n=80, male n=68) from two faith communities. Participants ranged in age from 18-75 years (mean=42.7 years). Body mass index (BMI) was calculated using the formula m/ht2 where m is mass in kilograms and ht is height in meters. Correlational statistical analyses was carried out with the variables of glucose, BMI, triglycerides, cholesterol and hemoglobin A1C. Background: Diabetes is one of the fastest growing disease classifications within the United States, especially among the Latino population. Nationally 2.5 million Latinos 20 years of age or older, have diabetes. Latino individuals are 1.7 times as likely to have diabetes compared to non-Hispanic white individuals of similar age. These numbers are on a steady increase and only account for diagnosed cases of diabetes. Prevalence rates for the common complications of diabetes imply that developing strategies for early identification of those at high risk of developing diabetes is a critical need. Triglyceride levels were examined as a possible method to provide earlier detection of diabetes risk. Results: A Kendall’s tau b correlation coefficient reveals significant association between glucose, triglycerides and BMI. The correlation coefficient between triglycerides and glucose was 0.277 (p=0.01). The correlation coefficient between BMI and glucose was 0.228 (p=0.01). The only significant correlation of interest with hemoglobin A1C was BMI (0.243, p=0.01). Conclusions: The stronger correlation between triglycerides and glucose as opposed to BMI and glucose suggests that triglycerides may be a more robust predictor than BMI of diabetes risk. However, due to the limited size of this study more research is required in this area to further explore the viability of triglycerides as a single predictor of diabetes risk.

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