Top Health Concerns for U.S. Latinos: Diabetes, Cost of Care

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

Patti Neighmond, NPR

Latino immigrants in the U.S. say the quality and affordability of health care is better in the U.S. than in the countries they came from, according to the latest survey by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health. But many report having health care problems.

About a third of immigrant respondents (31 percent) said they’d had a serious problem with being able to pay for health insurance in the past 12 months. And more than 1 in 4 had a serious problem affording doctor and hospital bills and prescription medicines.

But the health issue that Latinos said is most concerning for them and their families — whether they were born in the U.S. or immigrated here — is diabetes. Last year, in another poll, Latinos said cancer was the biggest problem facing the country.

Hispanic populations have a high prevalence of Type 2 diabetes. About 10 percent of Latino adults have been diagnosed with it or have “prediabetes,” a stage of the disease that often goes undetected. Continue reading

California Supreme Court: Trained School Employees May Administer Insulin

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

By KQED News Staff and Wires

SACRAMENTO — Trained school employees can administer insulin shots to diabetic students if a nurse is not available, the California Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Monday.

The ruling reverses a lower court decision that said California law allows only licensed professionals to administer the shots.

“Sometimes [parents] have had to quit their job or jeopardize their employment because of the constant need to provide care when a school nurse wasn’t available.”
The Supreme Court ruled that “state law in effect leaves to each student’s physician, with parental consent, the question whether insulin may safely and appropriately be administered by unlicensed school personnel, and reflects the practical reality that most insulin administered outside of hospitals and other clinical settings is in fact administered by laypersons.”

The decision supports a 2007 agreement between the state Department of Education and the American Diabetes Association, which addressed a shortage of nurses to attend to all diabetic students by allowing trained teachers and administrators to give the shots.

That agreement settled a class-action lawsuit in federal court, alleging the state’s schools had failed to ensure diabetic students receive legally required health care services. Continue reading

How Watsonville Program Helps Latino Immigrants Manage Their Diabetes

By Vinnee Tong, KQED

Abel Corona having dinner in his Watsonville home. He is more careful about his diet since he was diagnosed with diabetes. (Vinnie Tong/KQED)

Abel Corona having dinner in his Watsonville home. He is more careful about his diet since he was diagnosed with diabetes. (Vinnee Tong/KQED)

Abel Corona sat down to dinner and scrutinized the steak his wife had cooked for him.

“It’s hard to measure the portions,” he says in Spanish. The steak was extremely thin but still, he seemed to have a sense of guilt about it.

The focus on portion sizes comes, in part, as a result of his new efforts to manage his diabetes.

Corona, a Watsonville resident, was diagnosed about a dozen years ago, but didn’t do much to improve his health until 18 months ago when he started seeing a new doctor and, perhaps most importantly, started attending weekly group classes in diabetes education.

That’s where he’s been hearing a lot about portion sizes.

In Santa Cruz County, home to Watsonville, diabetes rates are 75 percent higher for Latinos than than they are for whites.
The class is run by a Watsonville health clinic, Salud Para la Gente – Health for the People — as part of a program called Project Dulce. On a recent Thursday evening, Abel joined about a dozen others in a multi-purpose conference room at the nearby Muzzio Community Center.

Nick Sandoval conducts the classes in Spanish. Sandoval blends cultural references, like folk tales, with a dash of humor to teach the classes. One recent class touched on a variety of subjects, from hypertension to cholesterol and basic nutrition. Continue reading

New Phone-Based Program May Help Lower Diabetes Risk

By Alvin Tran

The study relied on health educators to help participants make healthy choices. (Jerry Bunkers/Flickr)

Get active. Eat Smart. Eat your colors. And eat breakfast.

These were the four themes guiding participants in “Live Well, Be Well,” a diabetes prevention program in the San Francisco Bay Area for underserved communities.

Live Well, Be Well was also a new study led by researchers at UCSF and implemented by the City of Berkeley’s Division of Public Health. 

The researchers recruited over 230 adults at risk for diabetes from Berkeley, Oakland, and Richmond. They were randomized, and half received a series of phone-based, lifestyle counseling sessions. The other half, the control group, was offered counseling after one year. 

Participants chose from the four themes to guide their sessions, says UCSF Associate Professor of Medicine and lead author of the study, Dr. Alka Kanaya, M.D.

“We wanted to basically see which [theme participants felt] most interested in and the one they felt were most feasible for them to make a change. We really did want to pound home the message about healthy diet, eating correct portion sizes, [and] making smart choices when you’re eating food.”

Trained health educators from Berkeley’s Division of Public Health guided these phone-based sessions and helped participants create goals for diet and exercise. After six months, the counseling sessions stopped. Continue reading

Global Experts Meet in Oakland to Share Ideas on Children’s Health

Malaria, tuberculosis, HIV — these are the communicable diseases many people associate with death in the developing world. But increasingly diseases like diabetes, heart disease and conditions related to obesity have become the ticking “time bomb” that public health experts are desperately trying to prevent form exploding.

Healthier school lunches can help fight obesity and its related diseases. (Photo: USDAgov/Flickr)

The Public Health Institute (PHI) convened the first-ever conference focusing exclusively on children and non-communicable diseases this week in downtown Oakland. Experts from around the world gathered to exchange ideas about how to prevent diseases that were once thought to be illnesses of the developed world from spreading globally. It’s no coincidence that the conference is being held in Oakland. “Poverty is a root cause of a lot of the problems that bring diseases like this to the fore, and it’s something that we grapple with on a daily basis in Oakland,” explained Jeff Meer, PHI’s special advisor for global health. “If we can get a handle on how poverty relates to illness in Oakland, then we can understand it in Bujumbura and Kigali.”

The four most common non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are diabetes, cancer, chronic lung disease and chronic heart disease. “Most of us think of them as illnesses that strike in rich, highly developed countries; but the fact is that there is a tidal wave, an epidemic of non-communicable diseases that is striking populations all over the world, and striking, frankly with great ferocity in very poor places that have fewer resources than we do to deal with them,” Meer told me. A tidal wave indeed — two-thirds of deaths worldwide can be attributed to NCDs according to Meer. Continue reading

Soda Tax: What Can a Penny Do?

(Rex Sorgatz: Flickr)

(Rex Sorgatz: Flickr)

We’ve seen it with tobacco. As taxes went up, use went down. Public health advocates have been salivating over the prospect of a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages to gain a similar foothold in the obesity epidemic and the myriad health problems excess weight causes. But hard evidence on the health effects of such a tax has been limited.

A new study in today’s Health Affairs, quantifies the impact quite nicely. A nationwide penny-per-ounce tax, the authors estimate, would reduce sugar-sweetened beverage consumption by 15 percent. They say that modest reduction will lead to modest weight loss, which in turn leads to modest reductions in diabetes. After the researchers crunched all the numbers, all those modest reductions would, over ten years, result in 26,000 lives saves (or avoiding “premature deaths” as researchers prefer to say).

Continue reading