Objectives: Hispanics are the most rapidly growing minority group in the United States, and Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans and Cuban Americans are the three largest Hispanic subgroups. Among Hispanics, type 2 diabetes is the fifth leading cause of death. This paper examines diabetes-related mortality in Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Cuban Americans over 35 years of age in the United States during 1996 and 1997.
Methods: Using data from the National Vital Statistics System and the 1990 and 2000 censuses, we calculated age-adjusted and age-specific diabetes-related death rates for Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Cuban Americans over 35 years of age. Diabetes-related deaths were determined to be any death for which diabetes was coded as either the underlying or contributing cause of death.
Results: The diabetes-related mortality rate for Mexican Americans (251 per 100,000) and Puerto Ricans (204 deaths per 100,000) was twice as high as the diabetes-related mortality rate for Cuban Americans (101 deaths per 100,000). Cuban American decedents had the highest proportion of deaths with diabetes coded as the underlying cause of death (44%). After diabetes, heart disease (31%) followed by cancer (8%) and stroke (6%) were the most frequent primary underlying causes of diabetes-related deaths in all three ethnic groups.
Conclusion: Our analyses of these data demonstrate that diabetes-related mortality differed among Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans and Cuban Americans more than 35 years of age in the United States in 1996 and 1997. Socioeconomic factors such as low educational attainment and low income may be factors that contributed to the disparities in these mortality rates for different subgroups. Further research is needed to update these findings and to investigate explanatory risk factors. Diversity among Hispanic subgroups has persisted in recent years and should be considered when health policies and services targeted at these populations are developed.