August 3, 2001

One in Ten Border Residents Diabetic?

Initial results from a binational study of diabetes along the US-Mexico border suggest that 1 of every 10 border residents is diabetic, according to the Border Health Initiative (BHI).

Dr. Oscar De La Riva of the BHI, a California-based group participating in the border-long study, is concerned about the test results. "We've gotten tests back from the laboratory and preliminary results show that 1 in 10 of the people tested have high blood sugar levels, which is a clear indication that the person may be diabetic," he said. "This is really something to worry about, especially considering that it is from a random sample of both the Hispanic and non-Hispanic population."

The study, which includes all ten US and Mexico border states, is part of a five-year program that deals with diabetes. The study's results will be used in the creation of education and outreach programs that will seek to lower the impact of diabetes in the area. Conducted by different government and non-government groups, the study is overseen by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

De La Riva noted that diabetes can be affected by behavior and that education and resultant action can help mitigate the effects of the disease. "We're seeing a pattern of more people leading very sedentary lives and eating a lot of fatty foods," he commented. "Diabetes is a lifestyle disease; we drive everywhere and eat bad food," he added.

"Another thing coming out of these surveys is the lack of knowledge and information people have about diabetes. Many people didn't know that, even if they develop diabetes, they can control it." De La Riva stated.

Diabetes prevention and education programs will be created once the health surveys and tests are done in all ten border states and the CDC has reviewed the results.

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