Study Finds High Rate of Diabetes, Death From Disease Among Puerto Ricans Living in Chicago
Puerto Ricans living in the Chicago area are three times more likely than whites and nearly twice as likely as blacks to die of complications from diabetes, according to a study published Wednesday in the Journal of Community Health, the Chicago Tribune reports. Lead author Steve Whitman, director of the Sinai Urban Health Institute, and colleagues looked at state death records and found that the death rate from diabetes for Puerto Ricans in Chicago from 1999 through 2001 was 70.9 deaths per 100,000 people, compared to 23.8 deaths per 100,000 people for whites and 37.9 deaths per 100,000 people for blacks. In the community of Humboldt Park-West Town -- where 21% of Puerto Ricans have diabetes -- the rate was 67.6 deaths per 100,000 people (Graham, Chicago Tribune, 12/7). Researchers from the Sinai Urban Health Institute interviewed 108 Puerto Ricans from a random selection of 603 interviews of individuals in the Chicago area. Because of the small sample size, there is a wide margin of error, the Sun-Times reports. Researchers suggest that actual rate of diabetes among Puerto Ricans in Chicago could be as low as 10% or as high as 38% (Ritter, Chicago Sun-Times, 12/7). In the U.S., about 9.5% of Hispanics have diabetes, while a 2000 study found that 11.3% of Puerto Ricans living in New York City had diabetes. Two studies conducted in Puerto Rico found a diabetes rate of more than 9%. Nationally, the diabetes death rate in 2002 for Puerto Ricans was 45.4 deaths per 100,000 people. In Puerto Rico, it was 69.5 deaths per 100,000 people, nearly the same as Chicago, according to the Tribune. While the reason why more Puerto Ricans in Chicago seem to be affected by diabetes is unclear, experts say it is related to genetics; diet; social and economic circumstances; and lack of health insurance, access to medical care and willingness to seek help. A newly formed organization, called the Humboldt Park Diabetes Task Force, on Wednesday launched a five-year, 19-point action plan that calls for diabetes screening for all residents in a 20-block radius of the community, the development of a diabetes center, improving medical services, prevention and diabetes management assistance, and increased public education (Chicago Tribune, 12/7).
An abstract of the study is available online.