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Latino Daily News

Wednesday December 21, 2011

Hispanics, still Victims of Health Disparities

Hispanics, still Victims of Health Disparities

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Hispanics continue to suffer from disparities in health care, despite advances in coverage within the health care system and the reduction in mortality from certain illnesses.

“There are many things that can be done to reduce the disparities among Hispanics. State and local agencies are working with the communities to implement policies and programs that help healthy decisions to be made, easy decisions,” Leandris Liburd, director of the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, told Efe.

Obesity, especially among children, is a problem that particularly affects Hispanics.

Several studies have found that the rate of infantile obesity has reached alarming levels in terms of leading to other conditions, such as Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension among Hispanic children and teenagers.

According to CDC figures, obesity currently affects 17 percent of all minors in the United States.

In 2008, 18.5 percent of Hispanic children were obese compared to 12.6 percent of white children and 11.8 percent of African American youngsters.

Statistics show that obese children have nearly an 80 percent probability of becoming obese or overweight adults.

Felipe Lobelo, an epidemiologist who heads the CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention, emphasized the importance of prevention for eradicating this problem.

“Giving parents useful information and fostering environments that support healthy alternatives; providing healthier meals in schools; ensuring that every family has access to healthy food and helping children be more active” are some of the measures that should be pushed, Lobelo told Efe.

Diabetes affects Latinos in greater proportion than other groups.

Hispanics have a greater probability of developing Type 2 diabetes than the rest of the population and while some of the risk factors are genetic, by making small changes such as getting better nutrition and more exercise, this group can halt or delay the onset of the disease.

In its 2011 report on health disparities and inequalities in the United States, the CDC also warned about the risk of other conditions such as uncontrolled high blood pressure.

According to the CDC, Mexican-Americans have a much higher incidence of untreated high blood pressure than whites or blacks.

In the case of vaccination against the flu, for the second consecutive year the gap between white and minority children has been reduced although disparities remain among adults in those groups.

Vaccination coverage among Hispanic children between 6 months and 17 years in age was 43.4 percent, higher than among white non-Hispanic children of the same age, where it was 33.5 percent.

The CDD said that these advances have been achieved thanks to the development of alliances with community and local religious organizations that are working closely with Latinos.

The lack of medical coverage and the lack of confidence among the Hispanic community in government entities are some of the main barriers affecting the vaccination rates.