San Diego, California - The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), today released the largest and most  comprehensive health and lifestyle analysis of people from a range of Hispanic/Latino origins.

The data will enable individuals, communities, and policy makers to tailor better health intervention strategies.

“This study lays the foundation for future research on the possible causes of chronic diseases and ways to prevent them, and to help us understand the reasons why Hispanics and Latinos live longer the general population,” said Dr. Gregory Talavera, a distinguished professor in San Diego State University’s Graduate School of Public Health and the principal investigator for the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL) Field Center in San Diego.

The Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL) Data Book: A Report to the Communities” includes data on more than 16,000 Hispanic/Latino adults living in San Diego, Chicago, Miami and the Bronx who self-identified as being Central American, Cuban, Dominican, Mexican, Puerto Rican or South American heritage.

“Although Hispanics represent one out of every six people in the U.S., our knowledge about Hispanic health has been limited,” said Larissa Avilés-Santa, project officer for HCHS/SOL.

Using the data from HCHS/SOL, a report from the National Alliance for Hispanic Health was generated to highlight health areas that are having a positive impact in the Hispanic and Latino population.

In an effort to highlight health areas that are having a positive impact in Hispanic and Latino families and communities, the National Alliance for Hispanic Health today released a 40-page bilingual report, titled “About Our Health: Results from the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (SOL),” that underlines health trends for each of the communities involved in the study.

“The work will help illuminate aspects of health that are unique to Hispanic and Latino populations,” Talavera said.

Results

The research found that the Hispanic and Latino population in the United States is diverse, not only in terms of ancestry, culture and economic status, but also in the prevalence of certain risk factors for disease. Some examples of findings shown in this Data Book are:

  • The percentage of people who reported having asthma ranged from 7.4 percent (Mexican) to 35.8 percent (Puerto Rican).
  • The percentage of individuals with hypertension ranged from 20.3 percent (South American) to 32.2 percent (Cuban).
  • The percentage of people eating five or more fruits/vegetables daily ranged from 19.2 percent (Puerto Rican) to 55 percent (Cuban). Also, men reported consuming more fruits and vegetables than women did.
  • Women reported a much lower consumption of salt than did men among all Hispanic groups represented in the study.

While the study uncovered key differences among Hispanic and Latino adults, it also found some areas of more common importance for Hispanic health:

  • About one in three individuals had pre-diabetes, independent of Hispanic group of origin.
  • Only about half of individuals with diabetes among all Hispanic groups had it under control.
  • About half of Hispanics had neither diabetes nor pre-diabetes.

Later this year, researchers expect to reassess certain health measurements among the study participants to better understand the relationships between the risk factors identified during the first visit and eventual health outcomes in Hispanic and Latino populations.

Data collection: interviews and examinations

In the first phase of HCHS/SOL, between the years 2008 and 2011, study participants underwent an extensive clinical evaluation to identify the incidence of diseases and risk factors, as well as other important characteristics such as lifestyle and health insurance status.

Cardiovascular and lung health tests, a dental exam, hearing tests and a glucose tolerance test were key components of the evaluation.

Most of the information presented in the data book was collected through interviews with participants. Researchers are further analyzing data collected from the clinical measurements performed during the baseline examinations.

Since the original exams, study participants have been contacted annually to check on how their health might have changed, particularly their cardiovascular health.

More information:

The full NIH report “HCHS/SOL Data Book: A Report to the Communities” is available online in English and in Spanish.

Copies of the National Alliance for Hispanic Health report and findings “About Our Health: Results from the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (SOL),” is also available online.