Evidence is emerging that obesity-associated cardiovascular disorders (CVD) show variations across regions and ethnicities. However, it is unclear if there are distinctive patterns of abdominal obesity contributing to an increased CVD risk in South Asians. Also, potential underlying mechanistic pathways of such unique patterns are not comprehensively reported in South Asians. This review sets out to examine both. A comprehensive database search strategy was undertaken, namely, PubMed, Embase and Cochrane Library, applying specific search terms for potentially relevant published literature in English language. Grey literature, including scientific meeting abstracts, expert consultations, text books and government/non-government publications were also retrieved. South Asians have 3-5% higher body fat than whites, at any given body mass index. Additional distinctive features, such as South Asian phenotype, low adipokine production, lower lean body mass, ethno-specific socio-cultural and economic factors, were considered as potential contributors to an early age-onset of obesity-linked CVD risk in South Asians. Proven cost-effective anti-obesity strategies, including the development of ethno-specific clinical risk assessment tools, should be adopted early in the life-course to prevent premature CVD deaths and morbidity in South Asians.
Key words: Abdominal obesity, cardiovascular risk, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus, South Asians