Bilingual health fair Saturday
The Arizona Republic
Mar. 19, 2004 12:00 AM
Yvonne Wingett

Health specialists call the prevalence of diabetes among Arizona's Latinos an imminent epidemic that could be partly solved by substituting low-carbohydrate foods for such high-lard cultural fare as tortillas.

Depression caused by life-altering medical conditions such as diabetes could be alleviated with moderate exercise.

Experts will offer health-related tips like these at Mercy Care Plan's first-ever bilingual health fair from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Mountain Park Health Center West, 4616 N. 51st. Ave.

"Some researchers say (Latinos are) more genetically inclined to have diabetes," said Veronica de la O, community relations manager at Mercy Care. "Some say our meals are higher in carbs and sometimes our community is not as physically active."

The Department of Health Services listed diabetes as the eighth-leading cause of deaths among Arizonans in 2001. Arizona's Santa Cruz County led the state with the highest diabetes mortality rate, with 52.6 deaths per 100,000 population; Apache County ranked second, with 42.4 per 100,000; and Graham was third, with 39.9 per 100,000.

When ethnicity was evaluated, diabetes was the fifth-leading cause of death among Hispanics, fourth among Native Americans and fourth among African-Americans.

Mercy Care hopes to lower those numbers with free educational events like Saturday's Mercy Care Plan Schaller Anderson's Community Health Fair, de la O said.

Today's free fair will offer diabetes health screenings, nutritional advice and information on recognizing the signs of depression. The event is expected to draw about 300 participants from the heavily Hispanic neighborhoods nearby, organizers said. Experts will also screen attendees to determine whether they're eligible for state medical benefits.

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