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Dangerous Curves Ahead: Diabetes Dispropotionately Affecting Latinos

First Posted: Oct 16, 2013 10:42 AM EDT

Latino women and men are finding that diabetes and cardiovascular diseases are disproportionately affecting them. Health care professionals suggest that healthier diets and regular exercise will decrease cases of diabetes and risk of heart failure, but Latinos aren't heeding advice or understanding that those sensuous curves can kill.

CNN mentions the death of a woman by the name of Helen Casillas. She died at the age of 44 after suffering a heart attack, and she lived with diabetes for years. Described as the "life of the party," Casillas didn't take her diabetes into account when consuming food or when it came to her fitness, despite working in the medical field herself. Her doctor often pushed for her to lose weight, but she didn't believe that she was obese, so she ignored her doctor's advice.

But Casillas was like many Latino and African American men and women who consider their girth to be normal, even if they're overweight or obese. Researchers have found that 25 percent of Hispanics who are overweight consider their weight to be "normal," while only 15 percent of non-Latino whites thought the same. The University of Texas Medical Branch research team indicated that Latinos are at risk of falling victim to obesity related diseases because of this.

Centers for Disease Control indicates that 8.3% of the general population, or 25.8 million, are affected by diabetes, many of which are Latinos -- twice as many as non-Latino whites. Despite these numbers, Latinos are still not as concerned as they ought to be, and it's suggested that lack of access to quality health care may be one of the reasons.  One out of every three Hispanics don't have health insurance,  though nearly 6 million uninsured Latinos will be insured at the beginning of the coming year, also servicing mental health and substance-abuse, thanks to Obamacare.

Though Hispanic meals traditionally have fresh fruits and vegetables as base components of the meal, American fast food or sugary items from the grocer are found on the dinner tables and in the refrigerators more and more as individuals become busier; resulting in the intake of more sugar, fat and sodium. The consumption of unhealthy food, Latinos being unlikely to go to the doctor, lack of health insurance, and denial for the sake of curvaceousness are underlining reasons behind potential health risks.

Casillas' cousin, Elma Dieppa hopes that her cousin's death, the provision of affordable health insurance and comprehensive research will help Latinos see the benefits of being healthy, and understanding that the line between beautiful and deadly curves is blurred."

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