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The need for improved patient care among the hispanic diabetes population

July 9, 2015

Accounting for one in seven diabetes patients, Hispanic Americans comprise a significant segment of the US adult diagnosed diabetes population. Hispanic patients are expected to represent an increasing portion of the US diabetes population over time, given the Hispanic population’s driving role in overall U.S. population growth.

While the need for improved patient care spans across ethnic, racial, and other demographic lines, several data points highlight the need among Hispanic patients:

  • Prevalence continues to ascend. The prevalence of diabetes in the US is higher among the Hispanic population (12.8%) than among the Non-Hispanic White population (7.6%). While it is well-known that the prevalence of diabetes is higher within the Hispanic demographic, it is less often noted that this prevalence is growing at a faster pace. Whereas the CDC reports a 0.5 percentage point increase in diabetes prevalence in the Non-Hispanic White population from 2011 to 2014, this increase has doubled in the Hispanic demographic (i.e., 1.0 percentage point).
  • Cost compromises care. Compared to those without diabetes, medical costs among diabetes patients are twice as high. The cost of treating diabetes is particularly burdensome among Hispanic patients, who more often have household income levels below the federal poverty level and are less often insured. Cost/care tradeoffs are more common among Hispanic patients – and these tradeoffs jeopardize optimal patient care.
  • Diabetes more often cause of death. Those with diabetes have a risk of death that is fifty percent higher than those without diabetes. While diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death across all Americans, it ranks number five among Hispanic Americans. Furthermore, diabetes can be a precursor to other comorbidities including heart disease (the second leading cause of death in the Hispanic population).


There is an opportunity to combat the increasing prevalence of diabetes in the Hispanic population through educating those with pre-diabetes (a condition in which the patient’s blood glucose level is higher than normal, but not yet at the threshold for diabetes diagnosis). A number of scientific studies have linked small increases in physical activity and modest reductions in weight to significant delays in diabetes onset. In some cases, these lifestyle changes can prevent pre-diabetes from progressing to diabetes altogether.1 Staving off diabetes would, in turn, reduce the number of deaths and economic burden caused by the disease.

Opportunities to improve patient care also exist among Hispanic patients already diagnosed with diabetes. Such opportunities include partnering with promotores de salud (community health workers), who play an important role in assisting low-income and underserved Hispanic populations. It is important for healthcare professionals and pharma/device manufacturers alike to leverage the reach promotores de salud have in these populations.

Based on information from the CDC, the Institute for Alternative Futures estimates the Hispanic diagnosed diabetes population will more than double between 2010 and 2025.1 Such forecasts underscore the need to translate opportunities into actions in an effort to reduce the impact of diabetes in the Hispanic population.

For an overview of the US diabetes epidemic, please see “24 Million Diagnosed and Counting: Can We Afford to Ignore Diabetes?

For more information on the Hispanic diabetes population, please contact Tasha Love at

1 Institute for Alternative Futures.

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