NIH researchers available to discuss latest findings from landmark study of Hispanic/Latino health
Hispanics in the United States suffer from high prevalence of cardiometabolic disorders such as heart disease, stroke, and obesity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These chronic conditions are a top research priority for the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), and Hispanic Heritage Month, from September 15 to October 15, offers a timely opportunity to highlight the most significant research findings.
Experts at the NHLBI, part of the National Institutes of Health, are available to discuss recent findings from the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL), the largest epidemiological study of diverse Hispanics/Latinos in the United States. This landmark study enrolled 16,415 Hispanic/Latino adults living in San Diego, Chicago, Miami, and the Bronx, N.Y., who self-identified as being of Central American, Cuban, Dominican, Mexican, Puerto Rican, or South American origin.
These studies also underscore that this segment of the U.S. population is diverse not only in ancestry, heritage, culture, and economic status, but also in the prevalence of certain diseases, risk factors, and lifestyle habits across the different groups.
NHLBI researchers are available for interviews on the findings and implications of the following studies of the HCHS/SOL study cohort:
Diet, DASH, and metabolic disorders
Federal health experts say all Americans could benefit from following more closely the Dietary Guidelines, and a recent study found that Hispanics as a whole are no exception. While the study found that individuals with Mexican, Dominican, and Central American heritage appear to follow a better-quality diet, it concluded that Latinos as a group could benefit from significantly reducing their consumption of sodium and eating more good fats such as nuts and fish. In fact, another study found that Hispanics consume too much sodium and too little potassium, problems researchers say warrant targeted interventions in this population. Scientists also assessed the association between the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet—recommended for lowering blood pressure and preventing cardiovascular disease—and the prevalence of metabolic syndrome, or risk factors for increased cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The research observed different associations with DASH by heritage, such as lower overall prevalence of metabolic syndrome in populations from Central and South America, and lower diastolic blood pressure in those from Mexico, Central and South America.
Physical activity, sedentarism, and obesity
Hispanics are not clocking in enough hours of physical activity, and the problem starts at an early age. A study found that despite some differences based on heritage, Latino youth average 25 minutes per day of moderate physical activity—less than half of what federal guidelines recommend—while they spend on average ten hours per day being sedentary. Previous research of Hispanic youth found that little physical activity and high amounts of sedentary behavior are linked to increased cardiometabolic risk. Among Hispanic adults, a study also found that physical activity was associated with better physical health-related quality of life.
Sleep and cardiometabolic health
Mounting evidence links sleep to overall health. The contribution of sleep deficiency to health disparities is an increasing concern of researchers and healthcare providers. Sueño, a HCHS/SOL ancillary study, provides important sleep-related evidence for the U.S. Hispanic population. This study found that shorter sleep duration was linked to a higher prevalence of obesity, and daytime napping was even more strongly associated with greater adiposity. Another finding from the Sueño study showed that the timing and regularity of sleep-wake schedules—not just sleep duration—was strongly associated with the prevalence of hypertension, a key risk factor for cardiometabolic diseases.