Mexicans Living In U.S. More Prone to Diabetes than Those in Mexico
Mexicans living in San Antonio are "almost twice as likely to develop diabetes than Mexicans living in Mexico City," according to a new study sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. The study, which followed groups in the two cities over six-to-eight year periods, attributes the disparity to American eating and exercise habits, the AP/Detroit News reports. The report revealed that the Mexicans in Mexico were leaner, ate less fat and more carbohydrates and exercised more than their counterparts living in San Antonio. The San Antonio group was also more likely to have high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Dr. Michael Stern, one of the study authors and head of the clinical epidemiology department at the University of Texas Health Center, cited the results as support for the theory that "U.S. lifestyles are trending in an unfavorable direction." Although the San Antonio group enjoyed slightly more leisure-time exercise, that factor was "far outweighed" by the job-related physical labor performed by the Mexico group. Stern also dismissed San Antonio's better health care, which may keep diabetics alive and able to participate in study groups longer, as playing a "minor role" in the study's findings. Mexican-Americans are two and a half times as likely to develop diabetes as non-Hispanic Americans. Earlier this year, research indicated that a gene may play a role in determining why the disease is more prevalent among Hispanics, but Stern stated that the determinants of the increased frequency are "not entirely genetic." In addition, the disparity in diabetes levels between the Mexico City and San Antonio groups was widest among older people, leading health experts to suggest that Mexican lifestyles "are becoming more like American ones: unhealthy." Stern said that in the United States "we need public health programs to convince people to eat less fat and keep their weight under control," while in Mexico "there is a chance to intervene and stop this trend before it becomes full-blown" (Stevenson, AP/Detroit News, 11/6).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.