The Hispanic-Americans of Santa Ana, California are the population to be assessed.
The total U.S. population is 312 million, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau report. Almost 50 million of these are Hispanic-Americans. Nationwide, 10% of them are in fair or poor health (NCHS, 2011). The death rate for this population is 297.8 per 100,000 people. Their leading causes of death are heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries and infant deaths at 5.51 per 1,000 live births. And 33% of Hispanic-Americans 65 years and older has no health insurance coverage (NCHS).
The psychiatric or mental health needs of this growing ethnic majority have yet to be covered adequately (Lopez & Carrillo, 2001). Hispanic-Americans or Latinos greatly differ from the general U.S. population in physical and mental health indicators. Non-Hispanic medical and mental health professionals need to understand these differences better in order to provide much-needed services (Lopez & Carrillo).
Health Status of Hispanic-Americans
Among all races and ethnic groups in California, they have the highest rates of obesity, overweight and type-2 diabetes (NCHS, 2011). The California Department of Health Services reported in 2005 that almost 7 out of 10 Hispanic-Americans in this State are either overweight of obese. The most affected are those aged 12-17. Overweight is almost twice as much among those born in the U.S. than those not U.S.-born. These figures associated with the very high prevalence of heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. Obesity is a common risk factor to all these diseases and account for almost 60% of all Hispanic-American deaths Childhood obesity among them sounds a greater alarm as it raises the risk of diabetes. Health experts project that half of all Hispanic-American newborn babies will tend to develop diabetes in their entire lifetime (NCHS).
Obesity has been linked with high-caloric intakes of high-fat, high-sugar snacks, fast foods and sweetened drinks (NCHS, 2011). The diets of Hispanic-American children are comparatively higher in these contents than those of most other children in the U.S. They are also at a particularly higher risk for obesity than other ethnic groups (NCHS).
Another contributing factor to the development of obesity is physical inactivity (NCHS, 2011). Against the recommended minimum of 30 minutes per 5 days in a week, less than one out of 4 Hispanic-Americans are physically active for even 20 minutes thrice a week. Statistics reveal that male Hispanic-Americans are the most sedentary group among all minority groups at 46%. Almost 10% of their adolescents do not engage in light or moderate activity at all. Too much TV viewing and media also contribute to their poor health status. Surveys show that children in the U.S. spend an average of 5 1/2 hours a day watching TV and using video games or computers (NCHS).
Smoking (19% among male Hispanic-Americans and 10% among female
Physical inactivity or a sedentary lifestyle
Conditions in their countries of origin
Low socio-economic conditions drive them to settle in low-income neighborhoods, which have limited access to markets and other outlets where they can obtain healthy foods (NCHS, 2011). Mini-stores and convenience stores in these neighborhoods instead vend liquor and high-caloric, non-nutritious snacks. Only 52% of low-income residents in California live within half-a-mile walking distance to healthy stores. They also have fewer and well-equipped places of recreation and physical activity. Fewer Hispanic-American children and adults go to parks and playgrounds than White counterparts. Unsafe neighborhoods, limited opportunities for recreation and the lack of child care facilities decrease their chance for physical activity. They, instead, watch TV, which also exposes them to advertisements of sugary and fatty foods and wrong eating habits (NCHS). Recent surveys said that approximately 72% of adult Hispanic-Americans are either overweight or obese (OCHNA, 2005).
Obesity in Orange County
Obesity has been recognized as the second leading cause of preventable death, next only to smoking, in the United States (OCHNA, 2005). It accounts for 280,000 deaths on a nationwide scale each year. As of 2010, Orange County has a 3 million population. Of this total, 47.1 are of normal weight, 43.9% are overweight, and 9.1% are obese. A person is considered obese when his or her body mass index is 25 or more. Almost 13% of all adults aged 43 and older in the County are obese. A recent study conducted by the National Institute of Health emphasized the high and long-term risk of developing overweight and obesity. In 30 years, 9 out of 10 men and 7 out of 10 women in the County would become overweight or already overweight. More than one out of 3 inhabitants became obese or were already obese. And although 65.2% of children are of normal weight, 34.9% or 190,000 are at risk for overweight. 2004 survey results showed that the incidence of adult overweight or obesity is highest in Santa Ana, the largest city, at 70-90%. About 12% of overweight or obese individuals were more likely to be diagnosed with major diseases than those neither overweight nor obese. The major diseases are diabetes, coronary heart disease, arthritis, and mental health conditions. About 91% of those diagnosed with diabetes were obese; 67% with coronary heart disease; 63% with arthritis; and 78% with mental health (OCHNA).
Santa Ana, California Demographics
The total population of the city was 338,000 in 2000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau (Area Connect, 2011). Of this total, 257,000 or 76% are Hispanic or Latinos as compared with white Americans at only 42,000 or 12.42%. Most of the inhabitants are in the 25-to-44 age groups at 20% and 14.53%, respectively. Most of them live as families and occupy or rent housing units (Area Connect).
The majority of residents of Orange County at 74% rate the County's economy as excellent and quality life as high at 90% (SAC, 2005). Its biggest city, Santa Ana, is also the youngest and the most thickly populated. It also has:
the lowest resident language skills and education levels
the highest poverty level the worst transportation problem
the fewest number of adult high-school graduates the highest unemployment rates the highest drop-out rates, and the biggest number of immigrants.
About 20% of residents live below the poverty level and 22% live in dwellings rates as substandard (SAC).
Key Informant Interview
Dr. America Bracho is the executive director of the Latino Health Access, a center for health promotion and disease prevention in Santa Ana. She describes the city as beautiful with 90% of school children who speak Spanish at home (2007). But it is also characterized by misery and deprived of attention by its public officials. They work and sustain the prosperity of Orange County but are deprived of the chance to live decently. Those who earn less than $40,000 a year are poor because they cannot afford decent rentals. They, thus, live in very crowded, unhealthy and unsafe neighborhoods. The majority of children in these neighborhoods are very overweight and their parents are quite unaware of the signs of diabetes. They do not know the consequences of the disease. She and her colleagues began conducting an outreach program to fill these gaps with the Children's Hospital and providers (Bracho).
The health problem in this city has gone out-of-hand (Bracho, 2007). Obesity cannot be adequately addressed by a single program. The Hispanic-American community in Santa Ana is particularly vulnerable to obesity, just like the national population. Children of these families in this city are captive to TV watching, are sedentary and whose parents are frequently absent at home and thus cannot provide guidance to their children. Because they are mostly poor, Hispanic-American parents cannot afford to pay someone to watch their children while they work. They cannot afford resources that can keep their children's weight down. There are no school programs that can address this problem. These families do not have the parks or safe walking places that afford the opportunity for physical activity. Parents have to work at several jobs just to pay the rent. The opportunity for disease prevention and for action is quite limited in Santa Ana (Bracho).
The Serve the People ministry grew out of a vision to feed the hungry, the poor and the homeless of Santa Ana (Serve the People, 2011). The founder and her small group, made up of members from a Hispanic church, set out to fulfill this vision in early 2008. Its first task was to pack the first 50 grocery bags of food at a warehouse and bring them to a parking lot. This was the group's action on every first and third Saturdays of each month. Flyers and word-of-mouth went around and attracted many recipients until larger truck had to be bought for easier distribution. Other needs were added, such a clothing, shoes, diapers, baby food, school supplies, household items and toiletries. The following year, 2 more warehouses were rented to respond to demand. A free medical clinic was opened to attend to the needs of the whole family. A…