Arizona State University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Chicana and Chicano StudiesLatino Health Issues

What Can Obesity Lead To?

What is Obesity?
Why Should Latinos be Concerned?
What Can We Do?

Obesity can lead to other illnesses from chronic to acute, some very severe and deadly, such as Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, Coronary Artery Disease, Coronary Vascular Disease, Heart attack, stroke, and even cancer. All of these diseases are very preventable if one can educate themselves and learn to be more careful with what they eat and how much physical activity they do. 4 of the top 10 leading causes of death are all related to obesity, and are direct causes of obesity.

High blood pressure is one of the major causes of death in the United States. Often referred to as the "silent killer", high blood pressure increases the heart's workload, causing it to grow weaker over time. It can also cause stroke, kidney disease, and heart failure. One out of four Mexican Americans have high blood pressure.

Cholesterol is a substance found in cells, produced by the body and also found in food from animals. It is essential to forming hormones, cell membranes, and other body functions. Too much cholesterol can cause plaque formation on the lining of blood vessels. Over time, this creates a narrowing that can cause heart attacks or strokes. Among Mexican Americans 20 years or older, 47 percent men and 43 percent women have total blood cholesterol levels over 200 mg/dl.

Diabetes mellitus is a group of diseases characterized by high levels of blood glucose. It results from defects in insulin secretion, insulin action, or both. Diabetes can be associated with serious complications and premature death, but people with diabetes can take measures to reduce the likelihood of such occurrences. Most Hispanic Americans with diabetes (about 90 to 95 percent) have type 2 diabetes. This type of diabetes usually develops in adults and is caused by the body's resistance to the action of insulin and to impaired insulin secretion. It can be treated with diet, exercise, diabetes pills, and injected insulin. A small number of Hispanic Americans with diabetes (about 5 to 10 percent) have type 1 diabetes, which usually develops before age 20 and is always treated with insulin. About one-third of total diabetes among Hispanic Americans is undiagnosed. This is similar to the proportion for other racial/ethnic groups in the United States.

In 2000, of the 30 million Hispanic Americans, about 2 million had been diagnosed with diabetes. About 10.2 percent of all Hispanic Americans have diabetes. On average, Hispanic Americans are 1.9 times more likely to have diabetes than non-Hispanic whites of similar age. Diabetes is particularly common among middle-aged and older Hispanic Americans. For those age 50 or older, about 25 to 30 percent have either diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes. Diabetes is twice as common in Mexican American and Puerto Rican adults as in non-Hispanic whites. The prevalence of diabetes in Cuban Americans is lower, but still higher than that of non-Hispanic whites. As in all populations, having risk factors for diabetes increases the chance that a Hispanic American will develop diabetes. Risk factors seem to be more common among Hispanics than non-Hispanic whites. These factors include a family history of diabetes, gestational diabetes, impaired glucose tolerance, hyperinsulinemia (too much insulin) and insulin resistance, obesity, and physical inactivity.


Accessibility | Privacy | ASU Disclaimer This site was created by Dion Begay in fulfillment of requirements for the course CSS 335: Latino Health Issues taught by Dr. Szkupinski Quiroga at Arizona State University, Spring 2005.