Santa Clara County government and public health officials joined the Consul General of Mexico Monday afternoon to kick off the eighth annual Binational Health Week and release a report focused on health in Latino communities.
This year is the eighth year in a row that the county has participated in the transcontinental event, which is held across America and Canada.
Despite its name, the county's Binational Health Week actually lasts two weeks, and includes a number of events aimed at connecting residents in immigrant communities with health information and services.
As part of the week's kickoff, the county released a Status of Latino/Hispanic Health report, which includes a special in-depth analysis of health in Latino communities, taking into account factors like nutrition, obesity, physical activity and safety. The 2011 report focused on the Vietnamese community.
As a whole, residents of Santa Clara are very healthy, according to Dr. Martin Fenstersheib, the county health officer.
"Santa Clara always comes out as a very healthy, very well educated and socio-economically high level community on the whole-- it's ranked in the upper two or three in the entire state," Fenstersheib said.
But he said, the county also has a diverse and complex population with many ethnic communities, and the only way to get the whole picture is by studying specific populations. This year's study focused on eight predominately Latino neighborhoods.
"In general, when you look at the Latino community, the immigrants, they come here with a very healthy background. They still may be poor and not as educated but they have a better diet. By necessity they've exercised more. They have more social cohesion, less violence," Fenstersheib said.
The report reveals, among other things, that Latinos in the county live longer and have half the rate of high blood pressure compared to whites and African Americans. They also have lower rates of cancer, the report said.
Unfortunately, Latino adults also have higher rates of obesity and diabetes than other populations in the county. They also account for about 4 in 10 homicide deaths, though they comprise only about 27 percent of the county population. Latina teens are also more likely to experience teen pregnancy than young women in other ethnic groups, the report said.
The events organized as part of the Binational Health Conference include soccer tournaments, health fairs, free medical examinations, nutrition workshops and more.
--Bay City News Service