Study: Obesity, diabetes big problems in S. Texas

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (AP) — The biggest health threats in South Texas are obesity and diabetes, according to a recently published study.

The Corpus Christi Caller-Times reported (http://bit.ly/19SNBFM ) the study examined health disparities in the 38-county region encompassing the U.S.-Mexico border area in South Texas, the Coastal Bend area and San Antonio.

The South Texas Health Status Review found the area has higher rates of obesity and diabetes than the rest of the state and nation, with nearly one-third of South Texans classified as obese. About one in nine has been diagnosed with diabetes.

The study found that Hispanics in South Texas fared worse than those living elsewhere. Two-thirds of residents in South Texas are Hispanic.

The study’s authors say South Texas’ health problems can be linked to lifestyle choices.

About 52 percent of South Texans don’t get recommended amounts of exercise, defined as 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week, and 76 percent don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables, rates similar to the rest of the state and nation.

While part of the problem is also due to heredity, as obesity and diabetes tend to run in families, a bigger issue might be the lack of preventive care, said Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez, the study’s co-author and director of the Institute for Health Promotion Research at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, which published the study.

Some South Texans might not be able to see a doctor because they don’t have health insurance. The uninsured rates in South Texas are double the national average. Hispanics in the area had the highest uninsured rate at 41 percent, the study found.

But even those with insurance often fail to get regular checkups, Ramirez said.

“We need to educate the community about the importance to come in for prevention,” she said. “We are very much a crisis-care oriented population that seeks care in the emergency room.”

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Information from: Corpus Christi Caller-Times, http://www.caller.com

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