One in five Latino households lacks nutritious food, more than twice the rate among white households. That's causing higher rates of obesity and related chronic conditions. The cause of that food insecurity is racial bias largely driven by xenophobia.
“The bias issue is very critical given the political climate we have in the nation right now,” said Bishop Jose Garcia, director of church relations for the Bread for the World Institute, a non-partisan organization that provide policy analysis on strategies to end hunger. That could lead to less frequent access to preventive primary care, according to Garcia. The undocumented may avoid care which leads to being treated in emergency situations that often require hospitalization.
Garcia said such bias has contributed to a significant portion of the Latino population living in poverty. According to data released Tuesday by the group (PDF), 21% of Latino households, 30% of which headed by a person with undocumented status, lived below the poverty line compared to 13% of the general population.
Latino children were nearly twice as likely to go without healthy food compared to white children. Garcia said that has led to higher rates of obesity among Latino children. The obesity rate among Latino children between the ages of two and 19 was 21% in 2011-2012 compared to 17% among other ethnic groups, according to figures from the Trust for America's Health.
Between 2004 and 2007, rates of preventable hospitalization were highest among low-income African-Americans and Latinos. Figures from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality indicate eliminating such disparities would prevent up to 1 million hospitalizations a year, saving $6.7 billion in healthcare costs.