European Journal of Epidemiology

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 9–21

A review on ethnic differences in plasma triglycerides and high-density-lipoprotein cholesterol: Is the lipid pattern the key factor for the low coronary heart disease rate in people of African origin?

  • Raffaele Zoratti

DOI: 10.1023/A:1007492202045

Cite this article as:
Zoratti, R. Eur J Epidemiol (1998) 14: 9. doi:10.1023/A:1007492202045


Black people in the UK, in the Caribbean, and to a lesser extent in the USA, experience coronary heart disease events at different rates than white people. Despite having higher prevalence of hypertension, cigarette smoking and diabetes, black males have significantly lower coronary heart disease rates than white males, whereas no significant differences have been detected in females. The only known risk factor differences that could account for the difference in CHD rates are higher HDL cholesterol and lower triglycerides that are seen in blacks compared with whites. Obesity and, in particular abdominal obesity, seems to determine TG and HDL cholesterol levels: black males are less centrally obese than whites, while total adiposity and central distribution of fat is more predominant in black females compared with white females. We propose that the less degree of abdominal adiposity observed in black males is related with an increased anti-lipolytic effect of insulin, which could account for low triglycerides and high HDL cholesterol levels, and consequently explain the higher protection from coronary heart disease experienced by black males compared with whites and black females.

BlacksCoronary heart diseaseHigh-density-lipoprotein cholesterolTriglyceridesWhites

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Raffaele Zoratti
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Epidemiology and Population Sciences, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine–Wynn Division of Metabolic Medicine, National Heart & Lung InstituteImperial CollegeLondonUK