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The San Antonio Heart Study is one of the most extensive and comprehensive studies of Mexican-ancestry populations in Texas. Initially a cardiovascular risk study, interest in diabetes increased during the early stages of the study.

The Diabetes Alert Project was conducted in Starr County, a rural community of the Texas-Mexico border area. Of the 27,000 residents, 97 percent were of Mexican ancestry or origin. Households were randomly selected from the towns with the highest population density and individuals 15 years of age and older were invited to participate in the study. The group of diabetics comprised newly diagnosed diabetics as well as diabetics under medication. Thirty percent of the adults in the sample had Body Mass Index (BMI) equal to or greater than 30 kg/meter squared. Diabetics were heavier at age 18, had a higher rate of weight gain history, and had higher upper fat pattern than their non-diabetic counterparts.

The results of the San Antonio Heart Study project, initiated in 1979, emphasized the intermediate status of Type 2 DM prevalence in a Mexican-American population with respect to other populations. The Amerindian admixture background of the Mexican-American population is suggested as a likely contributor to the higher prevalence of Type 2 DM among Mexican-American than Non-Hispanic Whites but lower than among the Pima population.

The San Antonio Heart Study data were collected in two stages. The first was conducted during 1979 to 1982; the second took place from 1984 to 1988. The sampled population was about 5,000 individuals.

In 1979, three neighborhoods of San Antonio, Texas were selected for the study:

* A lower socioeconomic neighborhood of mainly Mexican-American residents;
* A transitional, middle-class neighborhood composed of 60 percent Mexican-American and 40 percent Non-Hispanic White residents; and
* An affluent neighborhood composed mainly of Non-Hispanic Whites, which was estimated to be 90 percent.

The initial sample consisted of 930 Mexican-American residents and 393 Non-Hispanic White residents ranging in age from 25 to 64 years of age. Interestingly, surnames were used to select individuals.

The San Luis Valley Diabetes Study was conducted from May 1984 to April 1986 in a rural area of Southern Colorado, near the state-line with New Mexico. Forty-four percent of the population is of Hispanic ancestry. Hispanic family background was self-reported. Medical records identified diabetic individuals and non-diabetic controls were from 1,264 households. Participation was lower among Hispanic-American control males, and higher among married individuals with the most years of education. The sample consisted of 343 diabetics and 607 controls.

The study uncovered a higher percentage of confirmed and undiagnosed diabetics among Hispanics than in other ethnic groups, and this percentage was higher among Hispanic females. The prevalence of diabetes was significantly higher among females, especially in the 70 to 74 years of age group than in any other age group. Age adjusted prevalence rates for adults 30 to 69 years of age were 10.7 percent for Hispanic females and 9.9 percent for Hispanic males.

A study that evaluated the accuracy of family history of diabetes recall in the San Luis Valley project, found that Hispanics with a positive history of diabetes had a higher percentage of diabetes screening reports than those with no history of diabetes. This finding, however, does not diminish the importance of the accuracy of family history reports in the San Luis Valley sample.