NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Overweight Hispanic Kids Headed for Health Problems

January 12, 2004

Hispanic children who are overweight and have a family history of diabetes may already be moving toward diabetes or heart disease, suggests a study published in the January issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

The findings suggest that tests for diabetes and abnormal cholesterol levels, which usually are done only on adults, should begin much earlier for all obese children, says Michael Goran, professor of preventive medicine, physiology and biophysics at the University of Southern California.

Participants in the study were Hispanic, ages 8 to 13. All were overweight and had relatives with diabetes. Goran and colleagues found:

  • Some 28 percent of the 150 children who took part in a study had a condition that is a precursor to diabetes.
  • At least 40 percent of Hispanic children in the pre-teen to early-teen years are too heavy, about twice as many as a decade ago.
  • Some 90 percent of the 126 children examined in a second study had at least one of the medical markers that is a red flag for diabetes or heart disease, such as abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, low levels of good cholesterol and high triglycerides.

Until recent years, type 2 diabetes occurred almost exclusively in middle age or older, but it is increasingly being diagnosed in overweight children and teens. The causes are "the interaction of genetic makeup with the environment we've created that promotes inactivity and high-calorie eating," he said.

Source: Anita Manning, "Overweight Hispanic kids headed for health problems," USA Today, January 12, 2004; based on Michael I. Goran, et al., "Impaired Glucose Tolerance and Reduced ß-Cell Function in Overweight Latino Children with a Positive Family History for Type 2 Diabetes," Journal of Clinical Endocriniology & Metabolism, Volume 89, Issue 1, January 2004; and Martha L. Cruz, et al., "The Metabolic Syndrome in Overweight Hispanic Youth and the Role of Insulin Sensitivity," Journal of Clinical Endocriniology & Metabolism, Volume 89, Issue 1, January 2004.

For text

For Cruz study abstract

For Goran study abstract


Browse more articles on Health Issues