Sex differences in lipids and body shape, but not diabetes, increase at puberty. Hong Kong Chinese are mainly first or second generation migrants from China, who have shared an economically developed environment for years, but grew up in very different environments in Hong Kong or contemporaneously undeveloped Guangdong, China. We assessed if environment during growth had sex-specific associations with lipids and body shape, but not diabetes.
Methodology and Principal Findings
We used multivariable regression in a population-based cross-sectional study, undertaken from 1994 to 1996, of 2537 Hong Kong Chinese residents aged 25 to 74 years with clinical measurements of ischaemic heart disease (IHD) risk, including HDL-cholesterol, ApoB, diabetes and obesity. Waist-hip ratio was higher (mean difference 0.01, 95% CI 0.001 to 0.02) in men, who had grown up in an economically developed rather than undeveloped environment, as was apolipoprotein B (0.05 g/L, 95% CI 0.001 to 0.10), adjusted for age, socio-economic status and lifestyle. In contrast, the same comparison was associated in women with lower waist-hip ratio (20.01, 95% CI 20.001 to 20.02) and higher HDL-cholesterol (0.05 mmol/L, 95% CI 0.0004 to 0.10). The associations in men and women were significantly different (p-values,0.001). There were no such differences for diabetes.
Growth in a developed environment with improved nutrition may promote higher sexsteroids at puberty producing an atherogenic lipid profile and male fat pattern in men but the opposite in women, with tracking of increased male IHD risk into adult life.