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Minority Women in LA County Have Higher Rates of Chronic Disease Than Whites

Minority women in Los Angeles County have disproportionately higher rates of chronic disease than others, according to a report released by the county Department of Public Health in conjunction with its Office of Women's Health, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The report, which examined the relationship between ethnicity and women's health, compiled data from several sources. Most information came from 8,600 residents randomly surveyed by telephone in 2005. According to the report, women generally have higher rates of diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, arthritis, asthma and depression than men. Minority women are at higher risk for many of the conditions.

Black women in Los Angeles County have the highest mortality rate of any group. In addition, more than half of black women are at risk of developing cardiovascular disease, compared with 38% of Hispanic women, 36% of white women and 27% of Asian/Pacific Islander women. In addition, more than one-third of blacks and one-quarter of Hispanics in the county were considered obese.

The report also found that among ethnic subgroups:

Central American women are more likely to be living in poverty, be uninsured and lack regular health care compared with Mexican, South American and other women;

66% of Mexican women are obese, compared with 60% of Central American and 47% of South American women;

68% of Vietnamese women live in poverty; and

Korean women are the least likely to report having regular access to care, and they have lower rates of breast and cervical cancer screening than Chinese, Filipino and Vietnamese women.

The report attributed poverty, lack of health care and insurance, and other socioeconomic factors to poor health among minority women in the county, according to the Times. "These findings are unacceptable and, as a community, we clearly need to do more to address the underlying yet complex issues that contribute to these disparate health outcomes," Jonathan Fielding, public health director and county health officer, said, adding, "The health care needs of women are unique, reflecting the influence of complex and challenging economic, social and biological factors".


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