MINORITY YOUTHS: More At-Risk for Heart Disease than Whites
African American and Mexican American children as young as nine years old have more risk factors for cardiovascular disease than their white counterparts, according to a study in today's Journal of the American Medical Association. In the study, "said to be the most thorough comparison of cardiovascular disease risk factors in youths of different ethnic groups," the researchers uncovered strong ethnic differences in risk factors among youths of the same age and socioeconomic status (Monmaney, Los Angeles Times, 3/16). Stanford University researchers analyzed six risk factors -- body mass index, blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels, smoking history and dietary fat -- for more than 7,000 U.S. children and young adults ages six to 24. The authors found that after accounting for household level of education and age, Mexican American and black girls had "significantly higher" body mass index than white girls and black girls had higher blood pressure levels than white girls. In addition, black and Mexican American boys and girls had higher glucose levels and fat intake was higher for black and Mexican-American girls and black boys than for white boys and girls. By contrast, "smoking prevalence was significantly higher for white girls and boys" (Winkleby et al., JAMA, 3/17 issue). "The high rates of smoking among white youth from families with lower education levels are alarming," said Winkleby, pointing to findings that 61% of white women and 77% of white men ages 18 to 24 in this population smoke (Reuters Health, 3/17). The results underscore the "need for information about heart disease prevention to be made available sooner, maybe as early as kindergarten," Winkleby said. She added that information about heart disease and its risk factors is not well marketed to African- and Mexican-American communities, compared to "information about cancer, AIDS and childhood vaccinations." However, heart disease has a greater impact on these communities, she said (Los Angeles Times, 3/16).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.