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Celebrate Hispanic/Latino Heritage Month!

Hispanic family smilingIn September 1968, Congress authorized President Lyndon B. Johnson to proclaim National Hispanic Heritage Week. The observance was expanded in 1989 by Congress to a month long celebration (Sept. 15 – Oct. 15).

We celebrate the culture and traditions of U.S. residents who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico, and the Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, South America and the Caribbean.

September 15th was chosen as the starting point for the celebration because it is the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16th and 18th, respectively.

For More Information, see the US Census Bureau's Facts for Features, Hispanic Heritage Month.

Family of six with dog

About 1 in 6 people living in the U.S. are Hispanic (almost 57 million).

CDC Vital Signs: Hispanic Health

On May 5, 2015, CDC published its first national study of leading causes of death, disease prevalence, risk factors, and access to health services among Hispanics or Latinos living in the U.S.. The study, conducted by CDC’s Office of Minority Health and Health Equity, used recent national census and health surveillance data to assess differences among non-Hispanic whites, Hispanic/Latinos, and Hispanic/Latino origin subgroups overall and by sex and nativity, and to identify subpopulations of Hispanic/Latinos at greatest risk for leading causes of death and disease.

Currently, almost 1 out of 6 people living in the U.S. are Hispanic (almost 57 million) and the rate is projected to increase to nearly 1 in 4 (more than 85 million) by 2035.

The CDC Vital Signs report showed that, similar to non-Hispanic whites, the two leading causes of death in Hispanics are cancer and heart disease. However, cancer is the leading cause of death for Hispanics, while it is the second leading cause of death for non-Hispanic whites. Hispanics have a 24% lower death rate from all causes combined and lower death rates for nine of 15 leading causes of death compared with non-Hispanic whites, but higher death rates for diabetes, chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, essential hypertension and hypertensive renal disease, and homicide, and a similar death rate for nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis.

Family of four

Four out of 10 Hispanics die of heart disease or cancer.

Among Hispanics, prevalences of self-reported smoking varied by Hispanic origin and by sex with highest prevalences among Puerto Ricans and Cubans. U.S.-born Hispanics had higher prevalences of obesity, hypertension, smoking, heart disease, and cancer than foreign-born Hispanics.

"Four out of 10 Hispanics die of heart disease or cancer. By not smoking and staying physically active, such as walking briskly for 30 minutes a day, Hispanics can reduce their risk for these chronic diseases and others such as diabetes," said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. "Health professionals can help Hispanics protect their health by learning about their specific risk factors and addressing barriers to care." In addition, Hispanics who choose to drink alcohol should do so in moderation, no more than 1 drink per day for women, and no more than 2 drinks per day for men.

CDC created a new web page that accompanies the release of the Hispanic health Vital Signs article focused on providing culturally appropriate health education materials for community health workers ("promotores de salud") serving the Hispanic community. It can be accessed at Promotores de Salud.

The Hispanic health Vital Signs article and fact sheet can be accessed here.

CHDIR logo

The CHDIR is important for encouraging action and facilitating accountability to reduce modifiable disparities.

CDC Health Disparities & Inequalities Report (CHDIR)

The CDC Health Disparities & Inequalities Report - United States, 2013 (CHDIR) is important for encouraging action and facilitating accountability to reduce modifiable disparities by using interventions that are effective and scalable. The report also underscores the need for more consistent data on population characteristics that have often been lacking in health surveys such as disability status and sexual orientation.

For examples of some important health disparities affecting the Hispanic/Latino population reported in the CHDIR, see the Hispanic or Latino Populations web page.

  • Page last reviewed: September 21, 2015
  • Page last updated: September 21, 2015
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