OBJECTIVE--To compare common health experiences of a South Asian (predominantly Punjabi) population with that of the general population, according to sex, and to related patterns of health in the fourth decade of life to the pattern of hospital admission and mortality documented in the published reports. DESIGN AND SETTING--A cross sectional survey with interviews and physical measures was undertaken in a two stage stratified random cluster sample in the city of Glasgow. SAMPLE--This comprised 159 South Asians aged 30-40 years, mean age 35 (73.6% of those invited) and 319 subjects from the general population, all aged 35 years. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS--Body structure, lung function, pulse and blood pressure, history of physical and mental health, results of standardised questionnaires on mental health, angina and respiratory health, recent and past symptoms, history of accidents, and sickness behaviour were determined. South Asians were shorter, broader, and more overweight (women); they had lower values for forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) and forced vital capacity (FVC), a faster pulse, and higher diastolic pressure (men). Fewer South Asians had had accidents or digestive symptoms (men); more had psychosomatic and high total symptoms (women); fewer wore glasses, had lost teeth, or had long standing illness (men) (all p < 0.01). Women had a lower FEV1/FVC ratio (p < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS--South Asians were consistently disadvantaged only in terms of anthropometric measures. Otherwise, the many differences were balanced, with disadvantage being concentrated only among South Asian women. The health gap between sexes in South Asians seems higher than in the general population. The findings show patterns of health in the fourth decade of life which are consistent with patterns of hospital admission and mortality documented in the published reports.
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