Sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Synthesis Project has released a report on Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Access to and Quality of Health Care. Among the key findings: “The largest access disparities are for Spanish-speaking Hispanics.” (Thanks to Siobhan Champ-Blackwell.)
Report on Disparities from the Synthesis Project
Research Finds Added Weight to Television’s Influence on Obesity in Hispanic Children
According to research being conducted, fast food commercials on Spanish-language television stations may be contributing to the growing weight problem in Hispanic children. Viewing 60 hours of programming (between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m.) on the two largest Spanish-language stations in the U.S., researchers found an average of two to three food commercials an hour, with a third of them targeted to children. Half of these ads were for fast food.
Recommendations from the researchers included a time limit of two hours per day of TV, with no television for children under two, and parent/child conversations about healthy eating choices.
Among America’s children, Hispanics have the highest rate of overweight and obesity.
Responding to the Epidemic: Strategies for Improving Diabetes Care in Texas
An alarming rate of increase is projected for the incidence of diabetes in Texas over the next 30 years. Based on statistics from the Office of the State Demographer, Texas will see an increase of 156,000 new cases of diabetes each year. A newly released report from the Texas Health Institute (THI) recommends a plan of action to curtail these predictions. According to the report, “The State Demographer projects a quadrupling of the number of adult Texans with diabetes from approximately 2.2 million in 2010 to almost 8 million by 2040.” Counties in the Texas border region are expected to be particularly hard hit. Given that rates of diabetes in Hispanic populations are higher than the national average, “There are a large number of Hispanic residents at high-risk of developing diabetes, particularly in South Texas, where obesity rates are very high and insurance coverage is very low.”
San Antonio Public Library Hosts Focus Group for Promotores
On June 9, 2008, the San Antonio Public Library hosted a focus group with 10 promotores from Edgewood Family Network. This is the first of two focus group meetings being held as part of SAPL’s “express outreach” award from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine. The UT HSC Libraries are partnering with SAPL to enhance services and resources based on promotores’ feedback and suggestions.
San Antonio Taking Part in Alzheimer’s Research
Alzheimer’s disease is a growing concern with the aging of America, and San Antonio has joined in the battle to research this disease and its connection to the Hispanic population. The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio has become the newest member of the Texas Alzheimer’s Research Consortium (TARC), a collaborative effort between five medical research institutions whose goal is to improve early diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of Alzheimer’s. With possible links between Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular risk and diabetes, San Antonio will play a key role. Thanks to its decades long involvement in tracking diabetes and cardiovascular disease in the Hispanic population through the San Antonio Logitudinal Study of Aging (SALSA), the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio should contribute greatly to the consortium’s research.
Senate Bill 98 Creates UT Health Science Center South Texas
This week, Texas Governor Rick Perry and other state and local officials were at the Regional Academic Health Center (RAHC) in Harlingen to sign Texas Senate Bill 98 and officially begin the process of creating a new four-year medical school in the Rio Grande Valley.
Currently, the RAHC serves as a branch campus of the UT Health Science Center San Antonio and provides opportunities for 3rd and 4th year medical students to gain clinical experience in the US-Mexico border region. The bill calls for the RAHC to be converted into a independent campus called The University of Texas Health Science Center South Texas.
With the founding of a four-year medical school in the region, officials hope that an increase in the number of much-needed health care professionals in the area will soon follow. With the formal passage of SB 98, state officials will immediately begin the work of funding the project. An article in the September 2nd issue of the McAllen Monitor provides more information on this historic event.
Some folk remedies have extremely high lead content
This recent article from the Brownsville Herald took an AP report regarding high lead content of certain folk remedies, and combined it with local reporting on sources of lead poisoning in the Valley. The article centered on a specific incident in Houston to report on several dangerous folk remedies which all contain extremely high levels of lead, including:
- A generally Mexican folk remedy called greta, a yellow or bright orange powder that may be mixed with olive oil when given to treat diarrhea or stomach upset (“empacho“)
- Another generally Mexican folk remedy called azarcón (also known as coral, maría luisa, rueda, alarcón or liga), a orange powder which may also be mixed with olive oil and given to treat stomach ailments like empacho
- A generally Dominican folk remedy called litargirio, a yellow or peach-colored powder traditionally used for a variety of purposes including as a deodorant, foot fungicide, and burn or wound treatment
- A number of ayurvedic remedies common in South Asian immigrant communities, including ghasard and mahayogaraj gugullu
According to the article, nearly 20% of lead poisoning cases in Harris County are blamed on traditional medicines.
Although Brownsville Herald reporter Melissa McEver was unable to find any local retail stores that acknowledged selling greta or azarcón, the national version of the story (see this version from the AP) reported that Harris County investigators had found that some storekeepers would keep such remedies “behind the counter,” bringing them out only for known customers. McEver did, however, quote a Region 11 DSHS official who indicated that pottery and ceramic dishes were found to be a source in many local cases of lead poisoning.
South San ISD Tackling Childhood Obesity
South San Independent School District is halfway through a three year program to fight childhood obesity by increasing health knowledge and improving health behavior among its elementary and middle school students. The program, called Proyecto Bienstar, is a diabetes and obesity prevention education program. According to Gary Sadlon, South ISD’s health and physical education coordinator, “The real issue here is prevention. It is an epidemic. It will take a community effort to reduce the youth diabetes issue in the South San Antonio ISD community and some initial results are showing some great progress.”
It is hoped that through a change in knowledge and eating habits, biological markers can then be modified in order to lessen the risk of diabetes and obesity.
JoAnn Fowler, whose son is participating in the program, says . . . “It is a fabulous program and it should be implemented all over the United States. It has offered my son a world of information regarding his well being.”
Spanish language brochure about informed food choices targets Hispanic youth
The Weight Control Information Network (WIN), an information service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, has included among its publications ¡Hazte Cargo de tu salud! Guia para jóvenes (Taking charge of your health! A guide for teenagers.). The brochure encourages healthy eating and exercise and offers information about nutrition and food labels as well as tips for eating out in order to educate teens and help them make informed decisions and healthy food choices. A recent (2007) report by Trust for America’s Health titled “F as in Fat” found that Texas youth aged 10-17 are the 4th most overweight in the country. Especially among Hispanic youth, overweight and obesity represent serious health risks. More information about this brochure and other publications is available on the WIN web site at http://win.niddk.nih.gov/index.htm.
State Senator Eliot Shapleigh Criticizes Border Health Commission
On March 14 Texas state senator Eliot Shapleigh published an open letter sharply criticizing the Border Health Commission. Shapleigh’s letter highlights persistent health disparities in the border region.