In a recognition of the nation’s surging Hispanic population, federal researchers reported Wednesday that obesity and diabetes rates have climbed for Mexican-American adults just as they have for other people in the USA.
About 40% of Mexican-American adults were obese in 2010, up from about 35% in 2006 and about 21% in 1984, according to new government data.
The rate for Mexican Americans is higher than the overall national average of about 36% of people who are obese, which is roughly 30 or more pounds over a healthy weight. Blacks have the highest obesity rate at almost 50%.
The National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, released a special report today on the chronic health conditions and nutrient intake of Mexican-American adults, ages 20 to 74.
The percentage of Mexican-American females (41%) who were obese in 2006 was higher than the percentage of males (29%), the data show. The percentage of Mexican-American adults with diabetes was 14% in 2006, higher than the most recent national average of about 11%. Obesity increases the risk of a number of health conditions including type 2 diabetes, heart disease and several types of cancer.
“Mexican Americans remain among the highest ethnic groups for the prevalence of diabetes and obesity,” says Mark Eberhardt, one of the study’s authors and a CDCepidemiologist.
“The trends in obesity and diabetes among the Mexican-American population are similar to trends in adults in the U.S., increasing over time,” says Cheryl Fryar, lead author of the report, and a health statistician with the CDC.
Claudia Gonzalez, a registered dietitian in Miami and author of Gordito: Doesn’t Mean Healthy, teaches classes on weight loss and controlling diabetes to Mexican Americans. “Many of them don’t realize that a small amount of weight loss could improve their health and diabetes. Many don’t understand the severity of the complications of diabetes.”
The long-term complications of the disease can include heart attacks, blindness, kidney failure, nerve damage and amputations.
The Hispanic population is one of the most rapidly growing ethnic groups, and people of Mexican origin account for the largest portion of the Hispanic population, the CDC report says. By 2050, there will be 132 million Hispanic individuals in the USA, making up 30% of the population, according to projections from the U.S. Census Bureau.
The latest report is based on health data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which is considered the gold standard because people actually are weighed and measured. Participants’ blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar also are measured. Participants complete questionnaires about their dietary intake. Among the findings:
•About 22% of Mexican-American adults had high blood pressure in 2006. This rate has remained stable over the last few decades. The prevalence increases with age.
•About 20% of Mexican-American adults have high cholesterol. That too has remained stable over the years. Again, the prevalence increases with age.
•The average intake of calories for Mexican-American men was 2,521 in 2006; women, 1,827 calories. Those numbers have increased by several hundred calories each since 1984. These numbers may be low because they are self-reported.
•The percent of calories they ate from carbohydrates increased from about 46% in 1984 to 51% in 2006.
•50% of Mexican-Americans reported having health insurance in 2006, down from 66% in 1984.
READ MORE: USA TODAY
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