Diabetes Tops List of Health Concerns for Latino Families

A new poll conducted by National Public Radio, the Harvard School of Public Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation on the views of Latinos in the US about their health and health care, communities, financial situation, and discrimination in their lives finds that Latino families see diabetes as the greatest health problem for their families.

According to the poll results, nearly one in five (19 percent) of the Latinos surveyed said diabetes is the biggest health problem facing their families; the second most concerning health issue was cancer, cited by five percent of responders.

The interviews were conducted in English and Spanish in June and July 2013 among close to 1500 Latinos 18 and older.

“These findings are surprising,” said Robert Blendon, a professor of health policy and political analysis at the Harvard School of Public Health. “Previous polls have shown that Latinos see cancer as the most important health problem facing the country. But when asked about their own families, Latinos cite diabetes as the biggest problem.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hispanic adults are 1.7 times more likely than non-Hispanic white adults to have been diagnosed with diabetes by a physician, and 1.5 times more likely to die from diabetes.
The researchers say that earlier studies have shown that obesity rates among immigrants increase as they continue living in the U.S., perhaps because of lifestyle changes, including less healthy diets, although responders to the new poll who are immigrants, say they don’t think their U.S. diet is less healthy. About four in ten (38 percent) immigrants said their diet is healthier in the United States, and about the same number (39 percent) sees their diet about as healthy. Only one in five (21 percent) see their diet as less healthy.

The poll also found that over half of all Latinos (52 percent) surveyed were not confident that they would have enough money or health insurance to pay for a major illness.

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