Latino adults rate themselves less healthy

Posted at 12:09 AM, Sep 30, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-30 00:09:56-04

CINCINNATI – With many living under the poverty rate and without health insurance, Latino adults encounter more barriers to good health and don't rate their overall health as highly as other adults in Greater Cincinnati, according to a survey.

Only 41 percent of Latino adults believe they are in excellent or very good health, compared to 52 percent of all local adults. That was one of the findings of the first comprehensive health survey of local Latino adults, according to Interact for Health, which funded the 2013 Greater Cincinnati Community Health Status Survey.

In the telephone survey, more Latino adults reported that they skipped seeing the doctor or dentist for financial reasons, had fewer checkups, were more prone to asthma and chronic lung disease and had less trust in their doctors.

It also showed that their rate of obesity had doubled in eight years.

And yet, Latino adults reported better eating and drinking habits and significantly fewer cases of high blood pressure than the entire adult population of the 15-county Metropolitan Statistical Area.

“Many Latinos in our region live in communities of higher poverty with poor environmental conditions, all of which contribute to the poorer health outcomes outlined in this report,” said Jennifer Chubinski, Ph.D., VP of Innovation and Learning at Interact for Health.

Still, Liliana Rojas-Guyler, assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati, said she found many positives in the survey.

Among Latino adults, 7 in 10 rated Greater Cincinnati excellent, very good or good as a healthy place to live. Nearly 8 in 10 said the same of their own neighborhood. Those rates are about the same as in the region overall.

"It shows that Latinos in Greater Cincinnati live in a healthy and safe community, that we're not all that different, that we have many of the same health issues as everyone else," Rojas-Guyler said. "We just have to push - keep assessing our needs and push to address our needs."

There are more financial challenges for Latinos trying to lead healthy lives. Figures from the 2013 Census Bureau American Community Survey for the Cincinnati MSA show:

> The poverty rate for Latino adults (30 percent) was more than double the rate for all adults (14 percent).

> Latinos' median household income ($41,694) was about $13,000 less than for non-Latino adults ($54,692).

> Also, 31 percent of Latinos did not have health insurance, compared with 11% of the entire population. (The survey says that data was collected before the insurance requirements for the Affordable Care Act took effect.)

The Community Health Status Survey sample had an even higher percentage of Latino adults living in poverty (38 percent) and a higher percentage of uninsured Latino adults (44 percent).

There were about 57,000 Latinos living in the MSA at the time of the survey - twice as many as in 2005, according to the Census Bureau. Two year ago, Latinos represented 3 percent of the population.

Some notable findings in the Community Health Survey:  

> Healthy eating: More Latino adults (26 percent) reported eating the recommended daily amount of both fruits and vegetables than the 18 percent of all adults. More Latino adults (88 percent) agreed that it was easy to buy healthy foods in their neighborhood than the 81 percent of total adults.

> Alcohol: Less than 1 percent of Latinos reported being heavy drinkers compared to 6 percent of the total population. Binge drinkers included 14 percent of Latinos and 20 percent of all adults.

> Oral health: Only 63 percent of Latino adults said the condition of their mouth and teeth was very good or good compared to 76 percent of all adults in the region.

> Chronic diseases: The rate for high blood pressure was 21 percent for Latinos and 34 percent for the region. Latinos' percentages for asthma (23 percent) and chronic lung disease (12 percent) were higher than for all adults in the region (18 and 8, respectively).

> Obesity: The rate for Latino adults (36 percent) wasn't significantly higher than for all adults (33 percent) but it was concerning for Rojas-Guyler that the Latino rate had doubled between 2005 and 2013.

"I would want to look deeper into that data," she said, noting that Latino adults surveyed said they have plenty of access to recreation and exercise facilities and the time to exercise.

The survey included responses from 251 Latinos from a total of 4,292 randomly selected adults.

READ the Latino survey report in English or Spanish.

FIND other reports from the 2013 Greater Cincinnati Community Health Status Survey here.