Posts tagged south texas
Check out this excellent story by Eli Saslow of the Washington Post about how the food stamp diet is making people obese—but also leaving them hungry—in the largely Latino region of South Texas.
Here’s a little insight into the situation in Hidalgo County, Texas:
“El Futuro” is what some residents had begun calling the area, and here the future was unfolding in a cycle of cascading extremes:
Hidalgo County has one of the highest poverty rates in the nation . . . which has led almost 40 percent of residents to enroll in the food-stamp program . . . which means a widespread reliance on cheap, processed foods . . . which results in rates of diabetes and obesity that double the national average . . . which fuels the country’s highest per-capita spending on health care.
This is what El Futuro looks like in the Rio Grande Valley: The country’s hungriest region is also its most overweight, with 38.5 percent of the people obese. For one of the first times anywhere in the United States, children in South Texas have a projected life span that is a few years shorter than that of their parents.
It is a crisis at the heart of the Washington debate over food stamps, which now help support nearly 1 in 7 Americans. Has the massive growth of a government feeding program solved a problem, or created one? Is it enough for the government to help people buy food, or should it go further by also telling them what to eat?
Read more of this fantastic story and photos here.
Half of all Hispanic children will develop diabetes, health officials say, KENS-TV reports.
In South Texas, where the population is mostly Hispanic, diabetes and obesity are the top biggest threats to health, given their link to certain cancers, heart disease, stroke, and more.
South Texas, a 38-county region spanning 45,000 square miles along the Texas-Mexico border and northward up to San Antonio and Bexar County, is home to 18 percent of the state’s population. Yet, South Texas residents who are predominantly Hispanics struggle with lower educational levels, less income and less access to health care, setting the stage for disease, according to the South Texas Health Status Review, an examination of health problems in the region by the Institute for Health Promotion Research (IHPR) at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio.
“Rates of diabetes and obesity in South Texas were higher than in the rest of Texas and nation,” said IHPR researcher Dr. Dorothy Long Parma. “That makes diabetes prevention a critical need.”
Healthy lifestyle changes, such as eating healthier and participating in more physical activity, can reduce the risk of developing diabetes and improve health, Dr. Long Parma said.
Hispanics are less likely to be covered by health insurance in every state in the union, according to new figures released late last week by the Census Bureau, the Washington Post reports.
Texas has the highest uninsured rate in the country, with about one in four people having no coverage at all.
Two South Texas counties have among the highest rates of people without health insurance in the nation—Hidalgo County has the highest rate among urban counties at 38.9% and Maverick County has the highest rate among medium-sized counties at 35.1%—with working Hispanic men in South Texas the most likely to not have coverage, Insurance Journal reports.
The Census Bureau’s Small Area Health Insurance Estimates are a statistical analysis of the American Community Survey data and other census information combined with federal income tax, Medicaid, food stamps and County Business Patterns records. The dataset is for 2011, the latest year available.
With the high rates of Latino childhood obesity, a Latino-majority school district in South Texas is working to improve students’ physical activity.
The McAllen Independent School District, as shown in this KGBT-TV video, has “adopted” the Peaceful Playgrounds program.
The goals of the Peaceful Playgrounds program are are to: improve physical activity; decrease negative behavior: implement a consistent “district-wide” conflict resolution for students; and, beautify playgrounds with new floor designs.
Residents of the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission metropolitan area have a 38.5% rate of obesity, according to a new Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.
Along with McAllen-Edinburg-Mission metro area, Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas; Reading, Pa.; and Huntington-Ashland, W.Va.-Ky.-Ohio, are among the 10 areas with the highest obesity rates for three years in a row.
Nationwide, 26.2% of American adults were obese in 2012, unchanged from 26.1% in 2011.
Residents of the cities with the highest obesity rates receive on average lower annual wages and are less likely to be able to consistently afford food and healthcare than residents of the cities with the lowest obesity rates, according to Gallup-Healthways.
Read more here.
You’re invited to check out the new revamped website of the Institute for Health Promotion Research (IHPR) at The UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, which investigates the causes of and solutions to the unequal impact of cancer, chronic disease and obesity among Latinos in South Texas and across the nation.
The website now features:
- Additional areas for news, research and materials
- Better organization for rapid access to research
- Seamless video player
- Social media integration
You can also now sign up to get the latest Latino health news via e-mail.
“Our website aims to raise awareness of our work to improve the health of Latinos, a diverse, culturally rich population that faces a higher burden of certain diseases than other groups,” said Amelie G. Ramirez, DrPH, IHPR director.
The IHPR, founded in 2006, is headquartered at The UT Health Science Center at San Antonio with a satellite office at the Regional Academic Health Center (RAHC) in Harlingen, Texas.
The IHPR aims to: conducting research, interventions and outreach projects; training scientists and mentor students; and communicating findings and tools with researchers, academics and the public using, social media, news media, public service announcements, newsletters, educational publications, scientific articles and reports, and more.
The revamped website is another way of reaching the public with vital health information and for reaching researchers, academics and policymakers who might partner with us.
Visit the site and let us know what you think by e-mailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Latinas are less physically active than Latino men and are less likely to meet physical activity guidelines than other population groups.
This inactivity may lead to obesity and associated conditions like diabetes and heart disease.
To improve Latinas’ health, a new five-year, $3.48 million study will use promotoras—trained community health workers—to lead culturally appropriate group education and exercise sessions for Latinas in community centers in South Texas’ Lower Rio Grande Valley, says study leader Dr. Deborah Parra-Medina, professor at the Institute for Health Promotion Research (IHPR) in the School of Medicine of The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.
Participants also will get newsletters and telephone counseling.
The effort, called Enlace (which means to “connect” or “join” in English) and funded by the National Institutes of Health, aims to increase Latinas’ physical activity rates.
“The idea behind Enlace is that, through this promotora intervention, Latinas will gain an otherwise-unavailable layer of social support to overcome barriers to activity and make positive behavioral changes—namely that Latinas engage in 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity on five or more days a week,” Dr. Parra-Medina said.
Dr. Parra-Medina and her colleagues had identified several barriers that influence physical activity behaviors among Latinas in South Texas: the dominance of work and family responsibilities, time, social isolation, lack of social support and personal motivation, access issues (e.g., program costs, lack of childcare and transportation), neighborhood safety and other factors.
For the new Enlace study, Dr. Parra-Medina’s team will recruit 704 Latinas ages 18-64 who do not meet federal physical activity guidelines from eight community resource centers in impoverished areas in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.
Half the women will be randomly assigned to the Enlace intervention, which includes 16 once-a-week promotora-led group exercise sessions; and 24 weeks of a maintenance intervention with monthly promotora-delivered newsletters and telephone counseling.
The other half will serve as a control group.
Dr. Parra-Medina’s team will compare the two groups based on minutes per week of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, physical fitness, wand other factors.
“We hypothesize that Latinas in the intervention group will significantly increase their levels of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, compared to those in the control group,” Dr. Parra-Medina said.
Read more here.
Latinas tend to have positive attitudes and strong interest in genetic testing for breast cancer risk, yet lacked general knowledge about testing, its risks and benefits, according to a new study led by researchers at the Institute for Health Promotion Research (IHPR) at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, the team behind SaludToday.
The study, published recently in the journal Community Medicine & Health Education, conducted focus groups with 58 Latinas in Hidalgo County, a largely Latino part of South Texas.
Researchers used analyzed focus group responses and themes and uncovered several cultural factors, such as religious beliefs, that impacted Latinas’ decisions to get genetic testing.
“Key Latino values—religiosity, importance of family and the influential role of health care providers in health decisions—should be considered when designing strategies to deliver culturally adapted risk information to increase and ensure Latinas’ understanding of breast cancer genetic testing during their decision-making processes,” said Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez, the study’s corresponding author and director of the IHPR at the Health Science Center.
Genetic testing for breast cancer risk may facilitate better-informed decisions regarding cancer prevention, risk reduction, early detection, and better determination of risk for family members.
However, among women who are tested, less than 4% are Latina.
Finding reasons for Latinas’ low participation was the goal of Dr. Ramirez and her team, which included IHPR researchers Dr. Patricia Chalela and Edgar Muñoz and investigators from the University of North Texas Health Science Center and the University of Texas-Pan American.
The researchers found that none of the focus group participants had ever had a genetic test, and most didn’t know what the test was or how it is done.
Most women, after learning what a genetic test was, indicated they would get a genetic test in the next six months if it were available—at no or low cost—to be able to prevent cancer through healthy lifestyle changes or act as soon as possible to treat disease.
But among some of lesser-educated focus group participants, lack of accurate information about testing and cultural beliefs may hinder their use of genetic testing for breast cancer.
For example, some Latina participants viewed God as the only one who can cure cancer, which might impact their preventive health behaviors. And given Latinos’ tendency to trust the advice of health care providers, some Latinas who lacked health insurance or access to a regular doctor may have fewer opportunities to learn about genetic testing.
“Further research is needed to identify effective ways to communicate genetic risk susceptibility information to Latinas to help them make informed testing decisions,” Ramirez said.
Read more about the study here.
Salud America! pilot researcher Dr. Nelda Mier documented a lack of sidewalks, street lights and parks along the poverty-stricken Texas-Mexico border—an environment that she found contributes to obesity and sedentary behavior among Latino children.
But this story doesn’t end with just research results.
To change the local environment to make it easier to engage in physical activity, Dr. Mier—armed with lessons from Salud America! on how to promote research-based policy change—brought her project research results to community leader and policy advocate Anne Williams Cass.
The research helped guide advocacy efforts of local organizations dedicated to affordable housing, including Cass’ Proyecto Azteca, which plans to communicate with Texas legislators about the need for sidewalks, street lights and garbage collection along the Mexico-Texas border.
Dr. Mier’s research also prompted changes in the design of an affordable-housing neighborhood, where Proyecto Azteca is working with planners to add trails for hiking and biking, a recreation center and outdoor exercise areas.
“These are things that we more than likely would have neglected in our planning had it not been for the research Dr. Mier shared with us,” Cass said.
This is just one example of how the 20 Salud America! pilot investigators are using their research to stimulate policy changes to reverse Latino childhood obesity. Other Salud America! researchers are using their research to change policies in communities across the country.
Read more about Dr. Mier’s and the other grantees’ achievements in policy change here.
Salud America!, which is dedicated to preventing Latino childhood obesity, is a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and is headquartered at the Institute for Health Promotion Research (IHPR) at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, the team behind SaludToday.
Liver cancer rates among South Texas Latinos are higher than in other U.S. Latinos, as are their rates of obesity and diabetes—and the relationships between these ailments are being mapped by researchers at the Institute for Health Promotion Research (IHPR) at The UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, the team behind SaludToday.
In a study published April 18, 2012, in the journal PLoS ONE, the researchers looked at overall liver cancer rates among U.S. Latinos and compared this to a Texas sample and a South Texas subset from 1995-2006.
They also compared prevalence among Latinos of lifestyle-associated factors that contribute to liver cancer: heavy alcohol use, smoking, obesity and diabetes.
They found that from 1995 to 2006, annual age-adjusted liver cancer incidence increased among all populations – but was highest in South Texas Latinos over the entire period. The increase among South Texas Latinos was also significantly greater than all Texas Latinos, who in turn had significantly higher levels of liver cancer than the U.S. national sample.
While obesity and diabetes increased among all three groups, obesity rates were higher in Texas Latinos and highest in South Texas Latinos. Neither heavy alcohol consumption nor cigarette smoking increased.
“Regarding risk factors, we found remarkably similar and significantly increasing rates of obesity and diabetes in our study groups, with higher obesity prevalence in Texas and particularly South Texas Latinos,” said Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez, the study’s lead author and director of the Institute for Health Promotion Research at the Health Science Center.
The study warrants further exploration if there is a relationship between diabetes, obesity and liver cancer so that researchers can look at the problem from the standpoint of prevention, said Ramirez, who also is a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics in the Health Science Center’s School of Medicine and associate director of health disparities at the Health Science Center’s Cancer Therapy & Research Center.
“Both obesity and diabetes are preventable and/or treatable,” she said, “so reducing obesity and diabetes may be an important for lowering Latinos’ risk for liver cancer, too.”