A new report from the Pew Hispanic Center 2007 National Survey of Latinos: As Illegal Immigration Issue Heats Up, Hispanics Feel a Chill describes the effects of this year’s heightened attention to immigration on Hispanics around the country. Whether immigrants or native, legal or illegal, nearly two-thirds of Hispanic adults say that life has been made more difficult for all Hispanics because of Congress’s failure to pass a reform bill, and more than half worry that they or someone close to them could be deported.
Feeling the Chill
Forecast: 90% of Mexico’s population overweight/obese by 2018
A recent report by the Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social (IMSS) indicates that if current trends continue over the next ten years, the percentage of the Mexican population considered overweight (BMI between 25 and 30) or obese (BMI over 30) could rise as high as 90% by 2018.
Although the press release indicates the percentage of Mexico’s population that is overweight or obese places it second only to the US in that category, that ranking may change soon if it has not already. The 2006 Encuesta Nacional de Salud y Nutrición placed that figure at nearly 70% for adults over age 20 in Mexico, compared with 66% for US adults over age 20 published in NCHS’s 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
In the IMSS press release, specialists from the Department of Nutrition & Dietetics at the IMSS’s Centro Médico Nacional La Raza indicate that globalization has brought to Mexico not only lifestyle changes, but also changes in nutritional habits:
“We are suffering a dietary transition, in which we are changing our nutritional habits, leaving aside the traditional diet, which was based on grains, corn and … giving way to the culture of fast-food diets,” confirmed nutritionist Dr Georgina Nanclares Delgado.
Dr Rosa María Andrade García said Mexicans’ diets are becoming more and more like those of industrialized countries like the United States and China. At the same time, sedentary lifestyles are becoming strongly prevalent. “This transculturization is affecting us, we are taking on behaviors of other countries which really bring a certain type of diet which harms us, consuming large quantities of energy [calories], proteins and supersaturated fats, but with little fiber, vitamins and minerals,” she indicated.
Fortification of Masa Flour as a Source of Folic Acid for Mexican-American Women
In 1998, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration began the mandatory addition of folic acid to cereal, pasta, rice, bread and flour in order to lower the incidence of NTDs (neural tube defects) in the United States. After the addition of folic acid, NTDs dropped from 4,130 cases to 3,000 cases. However, the mandate did not apply to corn masa flour (used in corn tortillas and corn chips), whole grain breads and corn meal products manufactured in other countries, which would increase the introduction of folic acid to women in the Mexican-American community.
As Mexican-Americans are at a 30-40 percent higher risk for neural tube defects, it could greatly affect the population in decreasing the occurrence of these defects. According to a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the addition of folic acid to corn masa flour products could increase the intake of folic acid for Mexican-Americans by 20%.
The study is published in the January 2009 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Genetic Link to Spina Bifida Discovered
Spina Bifida is a neural tube birth defect that occurs when the spine of the baby fails to close during the first months of pregnancy. It is the most common permanently disabling birth defect in the United States, occurring in seven out of 10,000 births. However, it is more prevalent in the Hispanic population, with a Hispanic woman twice as likely to have a child with this condition. In Texas, nearly two out of every 1,000 babies is born with Spina Bifida.
Epidemiological studies have always recognized a link between high glucose levels and having a child with spina bifida, but now an association between three variants in glucose metabolism genes and spina bifida has been identified through research conducted at the UT Medical School at Houston.
According to Dr. Manju Monda, M.D., professor at the Universty of Texas Medical School at Houston … “This is important from a practical standpoint because neural tube defects are more common in pregnancies complicated by maternal diabetes and maternal obesity, and our study suggests a mechanism for this association. In the United States, Mexican-American women have the highest rates of neural tube defects and they are also at increased risk for obesity and adult-onset diabetes, so this study may be especially relevant to pregnant women in Texas.”
The study, titled “Genes in Glucose Metabolism and Association with Spina Bifida”, is being published in the January 2008 issue of the journal Reproductive Services.
Gum Disease Linked with Gestational Diabetes Risk
Researchers have found that pregnant women with gum disease may be more at risk of developing gestational diabetes than pregnant women with healthy gums. Findings from the study show the 8 percent who developed gestational diabetes had higher levels of gum-disease-causing bacteria and inflammation. The study group consisted of 265 women, of which 83 percent were Hispanic…..a group already at higher risk to gestational diabetes and type 2 diabetes.
Preterm birth has also been linked to gum disease in previous studies.
“In addition to its potential role in preterm delivery, evidence that gum disease may also contribute to gestational diabetes suggests that women should see a dentist if they plan to get pregnant, and after becoming pregnant,” said lead researcher, Dr. Ananda P. Dasanayake.
Hablando de la Salud de la Mujer
From KLRN’s media release:
This weekend, at their annual women’s health conference, KLRN will honor the work of Martha I. Castilla, Executive Director of the Edgewood Family Network (EFN) while also showcasing the work of Martinez Street Women’s Center Maternal and Child Health Promotora Program.
Castilla began EFN with a small group of dedicated Latina mothers from the Westside of San Antonio women who were frustrated by the lack of culturally competent health information that was available to low-income Latina women. Through collaborations, EFN has now grown to be a community-led organization of residents, supporters, neighborhood groups, public agencies and local businesses working together to identify, address and resolve key issues for Latinas and their families.
Founded in the summer of 1999 by a group of women from diverse professional backgrounds, the Martinez Street Women’s Center aims to create a community space to promote the health and well-being of women and girls in San Antonio. The education, parenting, and counseling services provide long-term affirmation and support for women, girls and their families, enabling them to overcome barriers and make positive choices for their overall health and well-being.
KLRN — the public television station serving South Central Texas — is recognizing Martha Castilla and the Martinez Street Women’s Center as part of the 2nd Hablando de la Salud de la Mujer , a day for the women in the community. On Saturday, September 20, women of all ages will gather for health screenings, breakout sessions, a breakfast and a formal luncheon, presentations by nationally known keynote speakers, as well as a tote bag filled with numerous gifts and giveaways. Tickets are $25.
“We [KLRN] are proud to provide this opportunity for women to join us for a day-long adventure into their own lives,” said Joanne Winik, General Manager of KLRN. “This event not only brings together families and friends, but it provides women a chance to discover more about their own health and well-being. And we are particularly pleased with the keynote speakers chosen for this year who encourage women to foster positive attitudes, confidence and passion throughout their daily lives.”
KLRN-TV Channel 9 is the Public Television station for South Central Texas and broadcasts to a 30-county radius. The mission of KLRN is to use the power of telecommunications to provide quality programs and services which advance education, culture and community, to enrich the lives of people throughout South Central Texas.
About Speaking of Women’s Health
Speaking of Women’s Health’s mission is to “educate women to make informed decisions about health, well-being and personal safety for themselves and their families.” The 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization educates and empowers women nationwide through more than 50 conferences and events across the country. The foundations programs include Speaking of Women’s Health, Universal Sisters and Hablando de la Salud de la Mujer; community events and education centers with free health brochures in Wal-Mart stores nationwide; a free quarterly newsletter, a Web site and a daily television show, “Lifetime’s Speaking of Women’s Health.”
Speaking of Women’s Health is supported by National Sponsors Wal-Mart, Lifetime, Tylenol, Zyrtec, Kellogg’s, L’Oréal Paris, Maybelline New York, Garnier, Cadbury Schweppes Americas Beverages, Kellogg’s Snacks, Gardasil [Human Papillomavirus Quadrivalent (Types 6, 11, 16, and 18) Vaccine, Recombinant], Slim-Fast, Promise Activ, Vaseline, Degree, Kleenex, Huggies, Kotex, Dove Chocolate, Meredith Corporation, Stryker, One A Day and Citracal.
Locally, the Hablando de la Salud de la Mujer is supported by: Aetna, Metro Health, Texas Beef Council, DividedWeFail.org, Gastroenterology Clinic of San Antonio, IBC Bank, Thompson Print and Mail Solutions, San Antonio Magazine and Telemundo San Antonio.
Health comparisons and disparities in South Texas
The new South Texas Health Status Review, recently published by the UT HSC’s Institute for Health Promotion Research, provides a comprehensive, statistical comparison of health factors in South Texas with the rest of the state and country.
The review is available in PDF format from the Institute’s website at http://ihpr.uthscsa.edu/rpt_toc.html.
Healthier Version of Traditional Foods Important to Better Health
Eating healthy is a key component in reducing the risk of developing diabetes, and the National Diabetes Education Program has developed “Mas que comida, es vida” (It’s more than food, it’s life), a program designed to create healthier versions of traditional Hispanic recipes.
According to Betsy Rodriguez, public health advisor of the National Diabetes Education Program’s Hispanic/Latino Work Group, “Meal preparation is a critical component of diabetes control. Studies show that overweight or obese individuals can prevent or delay diabetes by losing just 5 percent to 7 percent of their total body weight”.
The program provides materials written both in English and Spanish, including a recipe booklet designed specifically for Hispanics. The recipe booklet can be ordered from the National Diabetes Education Program website.
Healthy Habits and Family Ties Lead to Longer Lives for Hispanics
There has been much interest in the recent CDC report that concludes Hispanic life expectancy is longer and that Hispanics have lower rates of disease, including cancer, stroke and heart disease. According to Kyriakos Markides, a professor of aging at the UT Medical Branch at Galveston, “There is now doubt immigrants are driving this”. With nearly 40 percent of U.S. Latinos born outside the United States, those who have emigrated to the United States tend to eat more wholesome foods, live in tight-knit communities, as well as have jobs that demand more physical activity, which in turn all contributes to better overall health and longer lives.
Hidalgo County to be Part of National Children’s Study
Approximately 1,000 children from Hidalgo County will be taking part in a study, sponsored by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, along with several other federal agencies. Women who are pregnant, or going to become pregnant will be chosen for the study, which will examine social and environmental factors (such as diet, pollutants, and poverty) on the children’s health and development. The children will be followed from their time in the womb until their 21st birthday.
“The goal of the study is to get a handle on all aspects of pregnancy and childhood….that includes biological, phyiscal, chemical and social factors.” according to Dr. Daniel Hale, an investigator with the study and pediatrics professor at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio.