Hispanics lag behind whites
in meeting National Health goals
Newswise — U.S. Hispanics lag
behind whites in meeting key health goals established by a large,
national public health initiative, a new analysis shows.
“Health disparities are common in
the Hispanic population,” say researchers led by Dr. Pranesh P.
Chowdhury of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Poor
health indicators in this population may reduce their productivity,
will raise their healthcare costs and will subject them to social
In the study from the latest issue
of the journal Ethnicity & Disease, the authors analyzed
responses from 235,784 participants of various ethnic groups (18,929
Hispanics) on six leading health indicators established by Healthy
People 2010, a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
initiative that promotes health objectives for the United States to
achieve by 2010. The elimination of health disparities between
ethnic groups is one of the major goals of the initiative.
Overall, Hispanics did not meet
any of the target leading health indicators — physical activity,
smoking, binge drinking, obesity, health insurance coverage,
specific source of ongoing care, influenza vaccination within last
12 months and any pneumococcal vaccination — set by Healthy People
Although they were less likely to
binge drink or smoke than whites, Hispanics were also less likely to
participate in moderate physical activity, to have received a
pneumonia vaccination, or to have health care coverage and a
specific source of ongoing care. In addition, Hispanics were more
likely to be obese than their white counterparts.
“Less education, more unemployment
and reduced assess to medical care among Hispanics might have
contributed to these results,” Chowdhury said.
Mark Schenker, M.D., of the
University of California at Davis School of Medicine, says it will
be difficult to implement changes in time for Hispanics to meet the
Healthy People 2010 deadline. “Public health receives less than 5
percent of the health care dollars in this country, so making ground
is always a challenge,” Schenker said. “When more funding is
directed to public health and prevention measures, there will be a
greater likelihood of improving on the indicators.”
“Targeting these six leading
health indicators will definitely reduce chronic health burden of
Hispanics in future,” Chowdhury said. “Public health professionals
need to focus on conducting health education at the community level
and implementing culturally appropriate and accessible preventive
programs.” He said that increasing health insurance and locating
specific sources of ongoing health care would improve the situation.
Ethnicity & Disease is a
quarterly medical journal studying the ethnic patterns of disease.
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