Obesity and Heart Disease Risks Common among Latinos

Heart disease risk factors among Latinos with highest BMIs emerged in early adulthood

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) The obesity epidemic in America has led to disease and increased health care costs. This epidemic may be hitting some ethnic groups harder than others.

Researchers recently studied health data from Hispanic and Latino Americans.

They found that obesity was common and often severe among Hispanics, which may be putting them at risk for heart disease.

These researchers suggested that young Hispanics in particular should manage their weight, as health problems may worsen in older age.

"If you are obese, talk to your doctor about healthy lifestyle changes."

Robert Kaplan, PhD, of the Department of Epidemiology and Population Health in Albert Einstein College of Medicine, led this study.

According to Dr. Kaplan and team, obesity has become a severe public health problem in the United States, and Hispanic/Latino groups are frequently affected.

Obesity is a risk factor for diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

This study examined the prevalence of heart disease risk factors among Hispanic adults.

Using the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos, the researchers examined data from 6,547 Hispanic men and 9,797 Hispanic women.

Each participant was between 18 and 74 years old and living in the Bronx, NY, Chicago, IL, Miami, FL or San Diego, CA.

The participants completed questionnaires, provided blood samples and received clinical examinations.

The researchers looked for various heart disease risk factors, including smoking, alcohol use, medical history, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

They found that only 22 percent of the participants had a body mass index (BMI) in the normal range. BMI is a measure of body fat based on weight and height. In this study, a normal BMI fell between 18.5 and 24.9. Overweight was considered a BMI of 25 to 29.9, and obesity was a BMI of 30 or more.

More than 40 percent of the men and 34 percent of the women in the study were overweight. Additionally, 37 percent of the men and 42 percent of the women were obese.

The researchers also found that the prevalence of high blood pressure and diabetes was higher among participants with higher BMIs.

More than 40 percent of individuals at least 40 years old with a BMI higher than 35 had high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and/or unhealthy levels of inflammation.

Dr. Kaplan and colleagues concluded that among Hispanic and Latino Americans in this study, excess weight, obesity and severe obesity were common.

Moreover, these researchers noted that high BMI was tied to more heart disease risk factors.

The authors suggested that Hispanics, particularly young Hispanics, should take a family approach to maintaining a healthy weight.

This study was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association on July 9.

The research was funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. The authors disclosed no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
July 9, 2014
Last Updated:
July 10, 2014