Diversity is the chief characteristic of health issues facing the Latino community in terms of illnesses, risk factors and lifestyles, according to a new study taken by the National Institutes of Health.

The document, "Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos Data Book: A Report to the Communities," shows that the percentage of people with asthma varies from 35.8 percent among the population of Puerto Rican origin, to 7.4 percent among those of Mexican descent.

Hypertension is much higher among Cubans, 32.2 percent, than among South Americans, 20.3 percent.

As for diet, while 55 percent of Cubans eat five or more pieces of fruit and vegetables a day, that is true of only 19.2 percent of Puerto Ricans.

In general, more men eat fruit and vegetables than women, but females consume less sodium than males.

Though diversity is the dominant note of Hispanic health issues, the authors of the study also found points in common among the entire community, such as diabetes.

Approximately one out of every three Latinos has prediabetes, which is to say, blood glucose levels higher than average but not high enough to be considered diabetes, a proportion that is fairly equal among the different groups of Hispanics.

"Although Hispanics represent one out of every six people in the U.S., our knowledge about Hispanic health has been limited," NIH's Dr. Larissa Aviles-Santa said.

Aviles-Santa said that the study provides a scientific basis for understanding risk factors among the Latino community and so be able to design more effective health policies.

A total of 16,415 Hispanic adults in San Diego, Chicago, Miami and New York, who identified their origins as Central American, Cuban, Dominican, Mexican, Puerto Rican and South American, took part in this study. EFE