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Young Hispanics have a greater risk of Heart Diseases due to Obesity

Update Date: Jul 09, 2014 04:02 PM EDT

Obesity is a disease that affects people of all ages, races and ethnicities. However, according to a new study, young Hispanics living in America have a higher obesity rate. The researchers found that due to the obesity epidemic, the U.S Hispanic/Latino population faces a greater risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.

"[The obesity epidemic] is unprecedented and getting worse," said Robert Kaplan, Ph.D., lead author, and professor of epidemiology and population health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. "Because young adults with obesity are likely to be sicker as they age, and have higher healthcare costs, we should be investing heavily in obesity research and prevention, as if our nation's future depended upon it."

For this study, the researchers examined data on 16,344 people residing in four cities, which were Bronx, NY, Chicago, IL, Miami, FL and San Diego, CA. The participants were all of diverse Hispanic descent. People with Mexican roots made up the majority of the sample at around 37 percent, followed by 20 percent of people with Cuban ancestry and 16 percent of people with Puerto Rican backgrounds. Men had an average age of 40 whereas women had an average age of 41.

The team calculated that 12 percent of men and 18 percent of women were classified as obese with a body mass index (BMI) over 35. This level of obesity raised concerns about their health risks. Out of this group, severe obesity, which is a BMI greater than 40, affected one in 20 males and almost one in 10 females in the age group of 25 to 34.

Over 50 percent of the severely obese participants had unhealthy levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, which is known as "good" cholesterol. They also had unhealthy levels of inflammation, measured by a marker known as the C-reactive protein. Overall, 40 percent of the people had high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. More than 25 percent of them had diabetes.

"This is a heavy burden being carried by young people who should be in the prime of life," Kaplan said in the press release. "Young people, and especially men - who had the highest degree of future cardiovascular disease risk factors in our study - are the very individuals who tend to neglect the need to get regular checkups, adopt healthy lifestyle behaviors, and seek the help of healthcare providers."

The researchers believe that more needs to be done to address the obesity epidemic within the Hispanic/Latino-American community. The study was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association (JAHA).

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