A comparison of three methods for assessing Amerindian admixture in Mexican Americans.

B. D. Mitchell, S. Williams-Blangero, R. Chakraborty, R. Valdez, H. P. Hazuda, S. M. Haffner, M. P. Stern

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24 Scopus citations


Epidemiologic studies have revealed that Mexican Americans experience an excess of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, gallbladder disease, and obesity relative to non-Hispanic whites. It has been hypothesized that the greater susceptibility of Mexican Americans to these disorders may be related to their greater degree of Amerindian genetic admixture. We evaluate the comparability of three different methods of assessing individual genetic admixture in Mexican Americans. Subjects were enrolled as part of the San Antonio Heart Study and were examined between 1979 and 1988 (n = 3301). Three different methods were used to assess Amerindian admixture: we queried subjects about their ancestors' ethnic origin, we measured subjects' skin color, and we estimated genetic admixture directly by analysis of polymorphic blood markers. These measures were generally poorly correlated with each other, with the highest correlations observed between skin color and proportion of Mexican-origin grandparents. In men, none of these three measures of genetic admixture was associated with the prevalence of diabetes, gallbladder disease, or obesity. In women, consistent positive associations were observed between admixture and all three diseases, regardless of the admixture measure used (ie, disease prevalence was higher among women with more Amerindian admixture). In both sexes, height was negatively correlated with all three measures of admixture, and admixture was also significantly correlated with body mass index and central adiposity in women. These data suggest that the three measures considered may assess different dimensions of admixture, but that for epidemiologic research, no one may be claimed to be superior to the others.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-31
Number of pages10
JournalEthnicity & disease
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 1993


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