Sunday, September 29, 2013

Obesity and Diabetes Trends in Cameron County, Texas

Fisher-Hoch, Susan et al (2010). Socioeconomic Status and Prevalence of Obesity and Diabetes in a Mexican American Community, Cameron County, Texas 2004-2007, Preventing Chronic Disease: Public Health Research, Practice and Policy. 7 (3), 1-10.

This study relied on data from the Cameron County Hispanic Cohort (CCHC) to determine the prevalence of obesity and diabetes in Mexican American populations. Specifically, the study examined the affect of socio-economic status on obseity and diabetes rates. The CCHC now numbers 2,000 people aged 35-60 years. Of these, 810 people were randomly selected for the study.

Income was divided into four stratas. Researchers targeted the first strata (the lowest earning) and the third strata (a higher earning group). The lower earning strata had a median income of $17,830 or less; higher earning, $24,067-$31,747. There were more participants representing the lower strata than the higher.

Two nurses and four field workers, all bilingual and bicultural, conducted the study. They had each participant fast for ten hours prior to examinations and rescheduled the exam if they did not fast. During the exam, they measured weight, height, body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, waist circumfrance, insulin levels and blood glucose levels. BMI was used as a measure of obesity.

Results showed that over half of the participants in both income stratas reported a BMI in the obese range. 57% in the lower income strata were obese; 55.5%, in the higher.  Less than a half of participants reported insurance, and only five percent reported Medicaid coverage. More women than men were able to participate in the study, because the men tended to work hourly wage jobs.

The study concludes that income is a direct influencing factor contributing to obesity and diabetes. This study is the first of its kind to focus exclusiviely on Mexican Americans in a border city. Results coincide with already published studies which show that the rate of diabetes in Latino communities is twice that of non-Hispanic white communities.


  1. From a medical standpoint, I still don't understand why BMI is still being used as a standard of "health". There are other factors that are to be taken under consideration when looking at BMI and deciding on what obesity is other than height and weight. Why not just look at diabetes ratings? BMI is much more faulty and can easily default.

  2. I agree, this study would have been stronger if it had not used BMI

  3. How did the study conclude that income was an influential factor of obesity and diabetes? The results stated, "57% in the lower income strata were obese; 55.5%, in the higher", which is not significantly different. It does not seem that they compared the results to higher incomes, or to non-Hispanic white communities.