Latinos' Lives and Health Today

Latinos in America cite diabetes as a top health issue for their families, and many voice concern about ability to pay for a major illness.

This poll is part of an ongoing series sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in partnership with the Harvard School of Public Health and NPR. A nationally representative sample of more than 1,400 Latinos, age 18 and over, participated in the poll.

Participants were asked to share views relating to different aspects of their communities, personal lives, health and financial situations. They were asked to identify their heritage as either Central or South American, Mexican, Cuban or Puerto Rican. When asked what health condition poses the biggest problem for their families, nearly one in five Latinos cited diabetes. In other areas, Latinos reported concerns about their employment and finances, and many said they had difficulty paying for health care and had experienced discrimination.

Key Findings

  • Roughly one in five (19%) Latinos reported diabetes as the biggest health condition or disease affecting their families. The next most cited problem, cancer, was mentioned by just one in 20 Latinos.

  • More than one in three Latinos (36%) reported that their finances are not so good or poor; almost half of all employed Latinos (45%) reported being concerned that they will be out of work in the next year.

  • Over half of Latinos (52%) are not confident they would have enough money or health insurance to pay for a major illness.  

  • Over a quarter (26%) of Latinos reported undergoing a negative experience that they believe was a result of discrimination.

About the Study:

Interviews were conducted via telephone (including both landline and cell phone) between June 11 and July 14, 2013, among a nationally representative sample of 1,478 Latinos age 18 and older. The interviews were conducted in English and Spanish. Respondents were first screened by asking if they were of Hispanic or Latino descent. If they were, they were then asked their and their family's heritage. (See report for full methodology.)


Media Contacts

Catherine Arnst

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation 609-627-7511

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Latinos say diabetes is the biggest health condition/disease affecting their families.