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Press Release

For Immediate Release: January 15, 1999
Contact: CDC Media Relations (404) 639-3286

CDC Reports Hispanics are Diagnosed with Diabetes at Twice the Rate of Whites

According to new data released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 6 percent of Hispanic adults in the United States and Puerto Rico have been diagnosed with diabetes, twice the rate of white Americans.

This new data affirms the importance of a federal initiative, led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to eliminate health disparities between racial and ethnic minorities and whites in six key areas -- including diabetes -- by the year 2010. The Initiative to Eliminate Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health was unveiled at the White House a year ago.

In the fiscal 1999 budget, just approved by Congress, $65 million in first-year funding will go to combat these disparities; including $5 million for a community based, culturally relevant diabetes education and prevention program conducted by CDC.

"Diabetes is a serious disease afflicting 16 million people in this country," says Dr. Frank Vinicor, Director of CDC's Division of Diabetes Translation. "These data tell us that efforts to reduce the burden of diabetes must focus on people who are disproportionately affected, such as Hispanics."

Diabetes can lead to a number of serious health complications including blindness, lower limb amputation and kidney disease. "There are many things people with diabetes can do to prevent these serious complications and improve their quality of life," said Nilka Ros Burrows, author of the report. "We must ensure that Hispanics know they may be at higher risk for diabetes and how they can manage the disease if they are diagnosed."

The CDC study released today -- which includes data from 1994-1997 -- is the first to show diabetes prevalence among all Hispanics in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Most previous diabetes studies that focused on Hispanics have been conducted in Mexican Americans and have found that approximately

one out of every 10 Mexican Americans aged 20 years and older has diabetes.

The new study found that the prevalence of diabetes among Hispanic adults increases with age. Approximately 2.3 percent of Hispanics aged 18-44 have been diagnosed with diabetes, 12 percent of those aged 45-64, and 21.4 percent of those aged 65 and older.

The prevalence of diabetes varied among Hispanics according to geographic location. Hispanics in Puerto Rico and the West/Southwest were more likely to have diabetes than Hispanics in the rest of the nation.

The prevalence of diabetes also varied by education regardless of ethnicity. Prevalence is higher among Hispanics without a high school education than those with at least a high school education. Although this

study showed that 6 percent of Hispanics were diagnosed with diabetes, it is estimated that possibly another 6 percent have diabetes but have not been diagnosed. CDC already conducts several efforts aimed at helping Hispanics control their diabetes, including the following areas.

National Diabetes Education Program. Sponsored by CDC and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), this program launched a public awareness campaign last year with TV, radio and print public service announcements (PSAs) in English and Spanish. The PSAs emphasize that diabetes can be controlled through self-management.

National Hispanic/Latino Diabetes Initiative for Action. Through this program, CDC promotes and evaluates interdisciplinary and culturally appropriate procedures to prevent diabetes and its complications in the U.S. Hispanic community.

U.S./Mexico border. CDC is facilitating an initiative to educate Hispanics along the U.S./Mexico border about diabetes and its complications.

Diabetes mellitus is a group of diseases characterized by high levels of blood glucose resulting from defects in insulin secretion, insulin action, or both. People with diabetes can take measures to reduce the likelihood of serious health complications by controlling their blood glucose levels through medication, exercise and proper nutrition.

For more information and to order publications about diabetes call toll-free 1-877-CDC-DIAB, or visit CDC's website at:


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