Latinos and health: Blessed and cursed at the same time?

This Tuesday kicked off a monthlong effort by the American Diabetes Association to urge people to get tested in order to see if they are at risk for type 2 diabetes, which typically strikes during adulthood. This is serious business for minorities. According to the diabetes association, Latino, African American and some Asian and Pacific Islander groups are at disproportionate risk of developing the disease.

For Latinos in particular, though, the risk of diabetes and other diseases is balanced against what’s referred to as the “Latino health paradox.” Latinos have a longer life expectancy and, at least as newcomers, are widely believed to be generally healthier than the average population, in spite of lower income levels and insufficient access to health care.

Latinos live longer on average than other segments of the population, 7.7 years more than non-Latino black Americans, and 2.5 years more than whites, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Latinas especially have the highest life expectancy at birth, 83.1 years.

At the same time, according to the CDC, they are at disproportionately higher risk not only for diabetes, but for asthma, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases and other afflictions.

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