Purpose: High sensitivity C-reactive protein (CRP) is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease based on finding in primarily non-Hispanic White populations. Obesity, another risk factor for cardiovascular disease, is higher in Blacks as compared to non-Hispanic Whites. The objective of this study was to assess the relationship between CRP, a marker of systemic inflammation, and obesity indicators by ethnicity, diabetes status and gender for two Black ethnicities.
Methods: Anthropometrics and venous blood were collected for African and Haitian Americans with and without type 2 diabetes in a cross-sectional study. A total of 434 participants; 190 African Americans, 244 Haitian Americans, met the inclusion criteria of CRP ≤10 mg/L. Main effects and interactions of ethnicity, diabetes status, gender, and each obesity indicator (waist circumference, waist-to-height ratio, and body mass index) were performed using General Linear Models.
Results: African Americans were more likely to be obese, have higher CRP, and smoke as compared to Haitian Americans. Haitian Americans has a lower rate of health care coverage than African American. Having a higher education level than Haitian Americans was a protective health factor for African Americans; whereas, Haitian Americans were protected by a higher percent married as compared to African Americans. All obesity indicators were associated with CRP. All differences in CRP by ethnicity and diabetes status were negated by obesity indicators. Being female was associated with higher CRP for waist circumference and BMI models. Adjusting for health insurance, smoking, marital status and education negated the relationship of gender and CRP for waist-to- height ratio.
Conclusion: Being African American as opposed to Haitian American was a greater risk factor for obesity and inflammation. Obesity was associated with elevated CRP levels in African and Haitian Americans regardless of diabetes status. Inflammation constitutes a serious health problem for minorities with high rates of obesity.