Study: Wide Diversity in Risk Factors, Diseases and Lifestyle Habits Among U.S. Latinos

An analysis of data on over 16,000 Hispanic participants from a variety of countries finds wide variety in diseases, risk factors and lifestyles among people who identify as Hispanic in the U.S.

The data come from the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL), which enrolled about 16,415 Hispanic/Latino adults living in San Diego, Chicago, Miami, and the Bronx, N.Y., who self-identified with Central American, Cuban, Dominican, Mexican, Puerto Rican, or South American origins.

“Although Hispanics represent 1 out of every 6 people in the U.S., our knowledge about Hispanic health has been limited,” said Larissa Avilés-Santa, M.D., M.P.H, a medical officer in the Division of Cardiovascular Sciences at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health, and project officer of the HCHS/SOL. “These detailed findings provide a foundation to address questions about the health of the U.S. Hispanic/Latino population and a critical understanding of risk factors that could lead to improved health in all communities. The information contained in the HCHS/SOL data…,” said Aviles-Santa, will enable individuals, communities, scientists, and health policy makers to tailor health intervention strategies to improve the health of all Hispanics.”

Findings in the data include:

  • The percentage of people who reported having asthma ranged from 7.4 (among those of Mexican ancestry) to 35.8 (among those of Puerto Rican ancestry).
  • The percentage of individuals with hypertension ranged from 20.3 (South American) to 32.2 (Cuban).
  • The percentage of people eating five or more servings of fruits/vegetables daily ranged from 19.2 (Puerto Rican origin) to 55.0 (Cuban origin). Also, men reported consuming more fruit and vegetables than women.
  • Women reported a much lower consumption of sodium than men among all Hispanic groups represented in the study.
  • About 1 in 3 individuals had pre-diabetes, fairly evenly distributed among Hispanic groups.
  • Only about half of individuals with diabetes among all Hispanic groups had the disease it under control.

The baseline interviews, and some clinical tests such as blood pressure levels, were conducted from 2008 to 2011. Since then, study participants have answered an annual survey to provide researchers with information on the relationship between the baseline health profiles and changes in health.  New tests will be conducted beginning in October 2014 to reassess certain health measurements and help understand the relationship between identified risk factors during the first visit and future disease in Hispanic populations.

The HCHS/SOL project was led by National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, a division of the National Institutes of Health.

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