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Hispanic Teens Face High Chances of Heart Disease, Diabetes

Alarming number have at least one risk factor for these health problems

MONDAY, Jan. 12, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- An alarming number of Hispanic pre-teens have at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes.

That's what two University of Southern California (USC) studies say in the January issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

One study found three in 10 Hispanic pre-teens have metabolic syndrome, which comprises numerous risk factors for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome include: high blood pressure; low levels of HDL ("good") cholesterol; central obesity; elevated triglycerides (a fat linked to heart disease); and impaired glucose tolerance (abnormally high blood sugar levels, also called pre-diabetes).

This high rate of metabolic syndrome may be due to the fact that obesity is particularly common among Hispanics, the researchers suggest. They note that 35 percent of young Hispanics are overweight, about twice as many as a decade ago. Obesity is linked with insulin resistance, which is linked to metabolic changes and increased risk of disease.

The second study found that nearly three of 10 Hispanic pre-teens (28 percent) already have impaired glucose tolerance (pre-diabetes), putting them at a heightened risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

"Obesity is now a critical, common nutritional problem in children," researcher Michael I. Goran, a professor of preventive medicine and physiology and biophysics at USC's Keck School of Medicine, says in a prepared statement.

"These studies show that the likely common pathway linking obesity to increased risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease is insulin resistance. Our results show that this link is established early in life," Goran says.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about metabolic syndrome.

SOURCE: University of Southern California, news release, Jan. 12, 2004
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