Background: South Asians (SA) have a four to five fold higher risk for type 2 diabetes
mellitus (T2DM) in comparison to other Asian migrant groups. Dietary patterns have been attributed
as an important independent modifiable risk factor.
Objective: The aim of this review is to document the dietary patterns of SA migrants in Western countries
and to summarize the evidence for the association of dietary patterns with T2DM and its predisposing
Methods: Using key search words articles from 1990 onwards were sourced from MEDLINE Pro-
Quest and PubMed (not MEDLINE) databases for this narrative review.
Results: A significant shift in meal pattern with frequent dining out and eating fast foods, traditional
festival foods and Western desserts and snacks was common among SA. Consumption of potatoes,
dairy, oil, meat and fish increased and beans, lentils, fruits and vegetables decreased post-migration.
“Animal protein” and “fried snacks, sweets and high-fat dairy” were associated with greater insulin resistance
and lower HDL cholesterol. A “mixed” dietary pattern was associated with obesity and hypertension
and a “western” dietary pattern was associated with overall risk for Metabolic Syndrome. A
70% increase in the odds of diabetes per standard deviation in gram of protein intake was also observed.
Conclusion: Dietary patterns pave the way to develop diabetes and other obesity related diseases
among SA as duration of residence increases. The first five years since migration maybe a window of
opportunity to provide targeted interventions to ensure maintenance of healthy dietary habits.