Rates of diabetes are unusually high among Mexican-Americans who live near the U.S. Mexico border and new research from UTHealth School of Public Health finds that those dealing with depression and anxiety in this population are less likely to properly manage their diabetes.
The study, published in BMC Public Health, examined 500 Mexican-American adults from the Cameron County Hispanic Cohort in Brownsville, Texas who had been diagnosed with and were taking medication for diabetes. Each participant was interviewed about symptoms of depression and anxiety. Body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, physical activity, fasting glucose, and HbA1c (average blood sugar levels over time) were also measured.
“Unfortunately, greater depression and anxiety are associated with higher BMI and greater waist circumference, both indicators of obesity, as well as engaging in less physical activity and having less favorable indicators of glycemic control,” said Darla Kendzor, Ph.D., principal investigator and assistant professor at the School of Public Health Dallas Regional Campus.
Eighty one percent of Mexican-Americans are obese or overweight nationwide compared with 66.7 percent among non-Hispanic whites. The rate of diabetes among Mexican-American adults nationwide is 16.3 percent. However, that number jumps to 30 percent for those who live along the U.S.-Mexico border.
“The message in this paper is that depression is an important component of diabetes in this border population and that is clearly related to the level of diabetes control, which strongly suggests that depression likely affects the capacity of the individual to control their diabetes through medication and lifestyle changes,” said Joseph McCormick, M.D., co-investigator and regional dean of the School of Public Health Brownsville Regional Campus. “Therefore, addressing the depression is a key to improved diabetes control and to lower complications and improved quality of life.”
Findings from this study suggest a need for interventions along the border which target depression and anxiety in conjunction with diabetes management.
“Given the high prevalence of depression and anxiety found in this border community, providers should regularly assess for depression and anxiety and either provide or refer to treatment when symptoms arise,” said Kendzor.
Co-investigators from the School of Public Health include Belinda Reininger, Dr. PH., Michael Businelle, PhD, and Susan Fisher-Hoch, M.D.
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