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Am J Public Health. 2000 August; 90(8): 1288–1293.
PMCID: PMC1446320

Type 2 diabetes is prevalent and poorly controlled among Hispanic elders of Caribbean origin.


OBJECTIVES: We estimated prevalence and control of type 2 diabetes in Puerto Rican, Dominican, and non-Hispanic White (NHW) elders and associated them with sociodemographic and health behavior variables and with body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference. METHODS: We used a cross-sectional analysis with a sample of Hispanic elders in Massachusetts and a comparison group of NHWs (1991-1997). The analysis included 379 Puerto Ricans, 113 Dominicans, and 164 NHWs, aged 60 to 96 years, with complete questionnaires and blood samples. RESULTS: Type 2 diabetes was significantly more prevalent among Puerto Ricans (38%) and Dominicans (35%) than among NHWs (23%). Differences remained after covariates were adjusted for. Hispanics with diabetes were approximately 3 times more likely to use insulin than NHWs. Puerto Ricans were 2 times, and Dominicans 3 times, more likely to have glycosylated hemoglobin concentrations of 7% or above than NHWs. BMI and waist circumference were individually associated with diabetes. When included in the model together, waist circumference, but not BMI, remained independently associated with diabetes. CONCLUSIONS: Ethnicity was more strongly associated with diabetes status and control than were socioeconomic or measured health behavior variables, suggesting that genetic or other culturally related factors may explain these differences.

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