CDC Study Highlights Hispanic Health Concerns


There’s good and bad health news for the burgeoning U.S. Hispanic population, according to CDC Vital Signs, the first national study of Hispanic health issues by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Hispanics are the largest racial/ethnic minority group in the U.S., representing nearly one in six people and projected to reach nearly one in four by 2035.

According to the Vital Signs study, the two leading causes of death for Hispanics are heart disease and cancer. These two conditions account for two out of five deaths—rates similar to non-Hispanic whites. The death rates for most leading causes of death for Hispanics are lower than for whites, except for diabetes and chronic liver disease—Hispanics are about 50 percent more likely to die from these conditions than are whites. In addition, Hispanics suffer from 24 percent more poorly controlled high blood pressure and 23 percent more obesity than whites.

Hispanics’ health behaviors and outcomes differ by country of birth and self-declared cultural heritage. For instance, 66 percent more Puerto Ricans smoke than Mexicans, and rates of obesity, smoking, heart disease and cancer are higher among U.S.-born Hispanics than foreign-born Hispanics. 

The study identifies certain social factors that prevent some Hispanics from taking optimal care of their health. These factors include educational level, living below the poverty line, not speaking English very well and being uninsured.

Retail dietitians can positively impact the health of Hispanic shoppers by offering individual counseling and group classes on diabetes prevention, heart health, blood pressure management and weight management, “healthy” cooking classes and culinary tips using traditional and economical Hispanic foods and recipes, and bilingual health education materials.

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