Vital signs: leading causes of death, prevalence of diseases and risk factors, and use of health services among Hispanics in the United States - 2009-2013

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2015 May 8;64(17):469-78.


Background: Hispanics and Latinos (Hispanics) are estimated to represent 17.7% of the U.S. population. Published national health estimates stratified by Hispanic origin and nativity are lacking.

Methods: Four national data sets were analyzed to compare Hispanics overall, non-Hispanic whites (whites), and Hispanic country/region of origin subgroups (Hispanic origin subgroups) for leading causes of death, prevalence of diseases and associated risk factors, and use of health services. Analyses were generally restricted to ages 18-64 years and were further stratified when possible by sex and nativity.

Results: Hispanics were on average nearly 15 years younger than whites; they were more likely to live below the poverty line and not to have completed high school. Hispanics showed a 24% lower all-cause death rate and lower death rates for nine of the 15 leading causes of death, but higher death rates from diabetes (51% higher), chronic liver disease and cirrhosis (48%), essential hypertension and hypertensive renal disease (8%), and homicide (96%) and higher prevalence of diabetes (133%) and obesity (23%) compared with whites. In all, 41.5% of Hispanics lacked health insurance (15.1% of whites), and 15.5% of Hispanics reported delay or nonreceipt of needed medical care because of cost concerns (13.6% of whites). Among Hispanics, self-reported smoking prevalences varied by Hispanic origin and by sex. U.S.-born Hispanics had higher prevalences of obesity, hypertension, smoking, heart disease, and cancer than foreign-born Hispanics: 30% higher, 40%, 72%, 89%, and 93%, respectively.

Conclusion: Hispanics had better health outcomes than whites for most analyzed health factors, despite facing worse socioeconomic barriers, but they had much higher death rates from diabetes, chronic liver disease/cirrhosis, and homicide, and a higher prevalence of obesity. There were substantial differences among Hispanics by origin, nativity, and sex.

Implications for public health: Differences by origin, nativity, and sex are important considerations when targeting health programs to specific audiences. Increasing the proportions of Hispanics with health insurance and a medical home (patientcentered, team-based, comprehensive, coordinated health care with enhanced access) is critical. A feasible and systematic data collection strategy is needed to reflect health diversity among Hispanic origin subgroups, including by nativity.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cause of Death*
  • Disease / ethnology*
  • Female
  • Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hispanic Americans / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult