Sunday, February 16, 2014

Obesity and Diabetes in Cameron County, Texas

AR, S. J., Pérez, A., Brown, H. S., & Reininger, B. M. Socioeconomic Status and Prevalence of Obesity and Diabetes in a Mexican American Community, Cameron County, Texas, 2004-2007.

Obesity and diabetes continue to be a growing health concern in society today. In 2006, it was estimated that greater then 20 million Americans had type two diabetes, and by 2050, this number is projected to reach 39 million (AR, Pérez, Brown, et. al 1). In this study, the authors examined the rate of obesity and diabetes in Mexican-Americans in Cameron County, Texas and its relation to socioeconomic status. As this area is located adjacent to the border with Mexico, there are ongoing demographic as well as socioeconomic changes.
The authors conducted a study to determine if minor economic advantages had any effect on health, specifically obesity and diabetes rates. In order to do so, the authors created a “cohort” of randomly selected individuals (AR, Pérez, Brown, et. al 2). All individuals were Mexican-American and 68% were female. Less than one-fourth of the participants had health insurance, “5% had Medicaid, and 5% had Medicaid combined with privately managed care” (AR, Pérez, Brown, et. al 3). The authors used census data to create four strata based on income. This data was then adjusted with sampling weights to balance the high proportion of female participants. Additionally, the participants were ranked by income and then sampled in the first and last quartiles to provide a wider difference in income then that seen in census data as well as  (AR, Pérez, Brown, et. al 3). The authors additionally used GIS to show the "spatial distribution of households" by income as well as the density of the sampling (AR, Pérez, Brown, et. al 3). The authors then geocoded the households with longitude and latitude coordinates and crossed checked these locations with GPS to ensure accuracy of the sampling area. The authors asked participants to fast ten hours prior to visiting where they then calculated body mass index (BMI), measured waist circumference, took blood pressure, and measured the blood glucose level. 
Distribution of study participants by quartile 
The study showed that more then one-half of participants had BMI that was considered to be in the obese range (BMI greater then 30 kg/m2). By strata, there was slight difference in obesity rates and income with lower four strata having an obesity rate of 57.5% and a rate of 55.5% in the higher strata (AR, Pérez, Brown, et. al 1). There was a significant difference in undiagnosed diabetes between strata. The authors concluded that individuals in a higher income strata were 7% less likely to have undiagnosed diabetes (AR, Pérez, Brown, et. al 1). Additionally, the study suggests that people between the ages of 55-64 in the lower socioeconomic strata are more likely to have diabetes as higher rates were seen among these individuals (AR, Pérez, Brown, et. al 1). 
Graph showing "percent of participants with diabetes by age and socioeconomic status" 
         This discrepancy suggests that economic advantages can have an impact on health in some communities. Holistically, this study demonstrates the need for further testing for diabetes as well as better access to more nutritional foods and health care in order to diagnose diabetes. The authors contend that the rate of undiagnosed diabetes was nearly twice as high in the study area then the national rate. Thus, there is need for diagnosis and testing. 


  1. I'm curious to know what variables were included in the "minor economic advantages" that the authors tested. It seems evident that the majority of Hispanic-Americans in Cameron County did not have health insurance, and that seems to me to be an economic disadvantage. A difference of only 7% between income rates for undiagnosed diabetes seems to suggest that other factors are at work other than income level.

  2. Would this study present different or similar results by testing other communities of different ethic backgrounds or racial backgrounds? I agree with Danny when wondering what the "minor economic advantages" were.

  3. This is a cool study because it's so prevalent today. There are so many documentaries and studies going on about obesity, diabetes and how they can relate to socioeconomic income. It seems that those with lower income have higher rates because healthy food can be expensive and it's sometimes cheaper to buy unhealthier processed or fast food.

  4. Yeah this issue is very current, and not only that but your article goes into more details about the economic issue relating to obesity. I know by walking through Whole Foods that there products aren't cheap by any means and although they are "healthier" for you which is another study on its own but the healthier people think a food is the higher the price will go up. This is caused by economic drive and if lower to middle class people can't afford these foods then McDonalds and fast food or lower quality food is the outlet.