Hispanic-American Public Health Crisis
By: Oscar L. Orias
The United States government has released the new census report and Latinos have surpassed all predictions by reaching 50 million people. Latinos now make up more than 16% of the population and there are no signs of slowing down. In Houston, Latinos make up more than 40% of the population and contribute hundreds of millions of dollars to our economy Their number in Houston the rest of the country keep growing at an exponential rate (43% increase since 2000). With this rapid shift in population come shifts in customs, culture, lifestyle, and health to this nation. For Latinos health and wellness is becoming a concerning and dangerous issue. 1 in 2 Latino children will develop type-2 Diabetes and 1 in 4 Latinos are obese. The numbers are similar to other minorities groups, especially if they are below the poverty line. This is due to factors such as low socio-economical status, income levels, and the change in diet and lifestyle from Latin America. Since Latinos children are the fastest segment group in the U.S., their well-being is crucial to health of the country. Unfortunately, the government has done little in the way recognizing and dealing with the problem from a public health aspect. This is still seen by many as a Latino problem not an American problem. With such exponential growth, the nation can’t afford to ignore Hispanic concerns. This series raises awareness of the different health aspects and problems that Latinos face. Latinos are changes how health care is viewed, implemented, consumed, financed, and delivered.
Diabetes and Obesity: The Latino Killers?
Latinos came to this country to achieve and share the American dream with their family. That American Dream has come at a high price to the fitness and well-being of the Latino family, especially children. More than 1 in 2 Latino children will develop diabetes in their lifetime and Mexican-Americans are more lightly to become obese. These statistics become bleaker when you look at the fact that Hispanics are 1.6 times more likely to die from diabetes than their White counter parts. For Mexican-Americans, they have 56% higher chance of dying from diabetes than Whites.
Diabetes and obesity are catalyst to health problems down the road. They can cause other concerns such as heart failure, cancer, renal disease and failure, pregnancy complications, and premature death. It can even damage and disrupt bone development in teens. Obesity has been linked to psychological and social problems in children, especially young adults. It can even lead to diabetes down the road.
The direct economic toll to treat these arrays of diseases reaches in the tens of billions. In 2007 the economic cost of treating diabetes was $127 billion. According to the American Diabetes Association this was a $42 billion dollar increase in spending from 2002. For obesity the toll is as high as $147 billion annually (2006 figures). The indirect economic toll such as lost productivity and quality of life are also very high. For diabetes the indirect cost is over $58 billion with a loss in national productivity of $26 billion.
The Burden of Diabetes and Obesity to the Households
It is estimated that diabetes cost on average $11, 744 per person per year. For obesity, patients spent an average of $1,429 more on health care than did people within the normal weight range. Even with adequate insurance coverage and government assistance many Latino families, especially ones below the poverty line have a difficult time paying for treatments. Families sacrifice basic and essential needs like heating and food in order to pay for treatment and prescription medication. Many of these impoverished patients end up accumulating huge credit card debts in order to pay for these large expenses. Paying these credit card debts and their high interest rates can cause long-term and even generational economic problems. These families focus most of their resources in combating diseases and debt at the expense of important long-term financial investments like college education (Latinos rank near the bottom in college attendance). This isn’t strictly a Latino issue, these diseases effect all races and ethnicities from the lower socio-economic standings.
Diabetes and obesity create loses in financial production for families and the community. These loses in productivity are devastating for families living on the fiscal edge. Treating diabetes and obesity related disease drains a family’s time, energy, and emotions. That same time and energy could utilized in becoming more financially and socially productive. These poor families end up making hard decisions and creating bad habit just to pay for treatment. Many of them end up consuming inferior foods and goods that are low in nutrients and high in fats, calories, and sugar. These foods are usually inexpensive juices and soft drinks with high amount of fructose corn syrup and fast food burgers laden with saturated fat and calories. For these families eating from the dollar menu at McDonald’s cheaper than buying leafy greens and fruits. In many Latino neighborhoods junk and fast food is more accessible than a grocery store. This ends up being a vicious cycle of disease that never gets properly treated and managed.
Part 2: Inadequate Care for Latinos
These grave health care issues are compounded by the inadequate access to care for Hispanics. This lack of care stems from several factors such as socio-economical standing, government policy, underinsurance, lack of income to treat these diseases, and how Latinos culturally view medicine and certain treatments. The next blog we will explore and go in-depth into these factors, especially into the socio-economic conditions that affect all races and ethnicities.
Stay tuned and please comment on my blog! All comments are welcomed and appreciated!
Wolfe , Lahle A. “1 in 2 Hispanic Children May Develop Diabetes.” World Diabetes Day USA. 1 Oct. 2009. Web. 08 Apr. 2011. .
Pallarito, Karen. “How the Costs of Type 2 Diabetes Add Up – Type 2 Diabetes – Health.com.” Health.com: Health News, Wellness, and Medical Information. 6 May 2008. Web. 08 Apr. 2011. .
Holden, By Diana. “Fact Check: The Cost of Obesity – CNN.com.” CNN.com – Breaking News, U.S., World, Weather, Entertainment & Video News. 9 Feb. 2009. Web. 08 Apr. 2011. .
“Direct & Indirect Costs of Diabetes in the United States – American Diabetes Association.” American Diabetes Association Home Page. Web. 08 Apr. 2011. .
Henneberg, Molly. “Hispanic Boom Brings Big Changes for Nation and Its Politics – FoxNews.com.” FoxNews.com – Breaking News | Latest News | Current News. 24 Mar. 2010. Web. 08 Apr. 2011. .
By: Oscar L. Orias
Houston has been known for a few things throughout it’s history but over the last 20 years it has become famous for it’s underground hip-hop scene. Hip-hop has become part of the Houston youth culture regardless of race, location, and economic status. It is seen in clothing, slang, attitude, and even what businesses people decide to open. Houston is never short of up and coming rappers, entrepreneurial record label owners, Hip-Hop event promoters, urban clothing stores, and music studios.
This series explores how hip-hop went from playing at a park in South Brox to being played on the streets of Houston:
Many call it an art form, a way of life, and a voice for an otherwise voiceless youth. Many others think it is one of the sources of western decadence, bad rhythming, or just don’t understand the appeal of it at all. At the end of the day it is still one of the most controversial forms of music and culture that exists in this country. I look at and dissect the good, bad, and ugly of rap.
It is no surprise to anyone that I am a huge hip hop fan and I’ve been a fan since I heard Nas on the aggressive yet introspective hit song Hate Me Now and Tupac’s soulful, social-conscious song Brenda Got a Baby. From then on I became hook on this genre till death do us part (Seems like that is truer than ever). For my peers and I growing up rap music was a voice, something they could relate to, something that was passed down from older sibling to younger sibling like some revered holy text.
Today Hip Hop seems more ridiculous than ever. Rappers these days come and go and the skills to rap have greatly diminished. It seems like having a criminal record, bullet wounds, and bling has overshadowed making music that connects to your fans. Even in this era, Hip Hop still churns out great music and artists (Lupe Fiasco, Z-Ro, Joell Ortiz just to name a few). Is hip hop in its last gasp to stay relevent or is it on the verge of experiencing a major renaissance?
From the Bronx to Beruit
To understand hip hop you must understand its beginnings and the climate that shaped the genres. Hip-Hop started in South Bronx in 1978 (with major influences from the west coast). A community trifed with poverty, gang violence, drugs, but more importantly a vibrant, proud community with lots of rich history. These children of residents and immigrants of South Bronx decided to create rhythmic beats by sampling current hit songs. From those rhythmic beats came the explosive new genre of hip-hop. It quickly became a creative outlet for youth energy and frustrations by doing things like dancing (B-Boying) and rapping. This allowed the youth to compete not with guns or gang violence but with dance and rhythmic verses.
Soon the culture took root and it expanded very quickly. By the late 80s it had gone international and hit the mainstream with super groups and rappers like Run-DMC, NWA, Public Enemy, Rakim and Eric B, and Slick Rick (master of story-telling). Hip hop soon became a conduit of inner city teenage frustration and expression around the globe. The same thing was seen around the US with different regions having their verison of hip hop (ex.: NWA in the west and Geto Boys in the south).
From B-Boying to Shock Value
These differences in regions also tell a story about the problems and plights facing youth in their sections of the US. NWA for example, did songs against law enforcement because they felt it was the only way they could combat police oppression was to voice their feelings and views to the rest of the world. It was no secret that the LAPD was notorious for corruption and heavy handed techniques that lead to the injuries and even deaths of many Blacks and Latinos. NWA simply channeled those frustrations into songs that their audience could image and even sympathize.
In F**k Tha Police NWA vividly describes LAPD’s attitudes towards youth, “A young n***a got it bad cause I’m brown/And not the other color so police think/they have the authority to kill a minority”. Whether the claims of the songs are true or not, it did raise questions about police treatment towards minorities and questions about racial profiling. Something that black and Latino residents of South Central LA said they experienced time and time again for decades. NWA brought to the attention of the world how they and Compton to a degree felt about how racism, classism, economic inequality, and police brutality. Yet most of their claims and feelings about police were for the most part swept under the rug. Those sediments coupled with the beating of Rodney King reappeared during the violent LA riots in 1992.
By voice their frustrations on the airwaves they also discovered something else that would change hip-hop for good: shock values sells records. They quickly discovered that their kind of rap was selling records, hundreds and thousands of records and making them very rich in the process. This small group out of Compton was becoming a very big international sensation and garnering much attention in the US. They even got a letter from the FBI warning how their music would entice violence against law enforcement. Straight Outta Compton was the first CD that had a parental advisory sticker which added to its taboo. Even with little radio play the CD managed to go double platinum. Quickly other rappers started to exploit the taboo label rap was given, which led further led to America’s fascination with hip-hop. New rappers started embracing shock value as a way to get attention and sales. This was seen in Nas’ debut on Live At the BBQ “When I was 12 I went to hell for snuffing Jesus……I wave automatic guns at nuns”. From then on much of raps appeal, themes, subject matter, and even language were partly based on shock value.
In part 2, I will discuss why it is so taboo in the first place and how it ended up hurting itself in the road to popularity. Please leave your thoughts and comments, all thoughts are welcomed. Be respectful of others opinions though. Here is a music video by the Houston rapper, Scarface talking about the socioeconomic conditions he had to endure growing up in southside Houston.
What are you personal thoughts of hip hip? Love it, hate it? Is rap music taboo by design or does society make it so? How has it changed America? Hit ya boy up!
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