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Hispanic health in Indiana: the good and the bad

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By Mary Kuhlman

A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention health report on the country's largest minority group - which makes up more than 6 percent of Indiana's population - has some good news: Hispanics have a 24 percent lower death rate than whites, and are about half as likely to smoke.

CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden said this first-of-its-kind research is intended to help health-care professionals and outreach workers. Among the details: Hispanics are more likely to die from diabetes or liver disease, and are less likely to be insured.

"The bottom line is that there are wide variations in disease and health risks depending on where someone was born," he said, "and that some areas of health are better among Hispanic populations - some are worse - but all can be improved."

Frieden said the CDC also looked at sub-groups, finding that Puerto Rican men have a higher smoking rate and that Hispanic women with high blood pressure are more likely to have it under control than Hispanic men.

CDC medical epidemiologist Dr. Ken Dominguez added that since the Hispanic population is generally about 15 years younger than whites on average, this is a good time to get on a healthy path.

"Learning about diabetes and how to prevent Type II diabetes," he said, "such as eating a healthy diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, keeping a healthy weight, taking at least one brisk 10-minute walk three times a day, five days a week."

Language barriers were noted in the report as a reason for a lack of insurance and regular medical care.

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