Dr. David Hayes-Bautista

Finding a Link Between Culture, Behavior, and Health




Health is an important issue in the Hispanic community. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in 2015 that Latinos have seen an increase in illnesses such as diabetes, liver problems, heart disease and cancer. The numbers do not lie, either. HispanicTrending.net reported last year that one out of every five adult diabetics is Hispanic, and nearly one-third of adult Hispanics is obese. Dr. David Hayes-Bautista and other researchers spend countless hours studying health problems in the Latino community.

Dr. Hayes-Bautista has been most influential in his research of the effect of various health issues have had on the Hispanic population. BestKeynotes.com featured Hayes-Bautista’s research on the Latino Epidemiological Paradox, which helped find a link between culture, behavior and health. This helped uncover reasons why heritage often plays part in who can contract certain diseases.

This research led to the formation of the Center for the Study of Latino Health and Cultural at the School of Public Health. The center plays is part of UCLA’s medical school, combining research interests with teaching methods to manage the care of its Latino patient base. Dr. Hayes-Bautista’s program has also helped him have a voice across the nation, raising concerns over access to universal health care.

Dr. Hayes-Bautista continues to have an impact on the Latino community thanks to his transformational center that has helped establish new connections with specific health concerns. Some of his research has been featured in publications such as Family Practice, Salud Pública de México and the American Journal of Public Health.

He is also an accomplished author. His recent book, El Cinco de Mayo: An American Tradition, observes the true origins of the Hispanic holiday and has been well received by his readers.  Another book, La Nueva California, Latinos in the Golden State, is one of Dr. Hayes-Bautista’s most celebrated works.

Meanwhile, Dr. Hayes-Bautista continues doing tours and keynote presentations of his work, communicating why Latino health is so vitally important for families.


Q&A with Dr. Hayes-Bautista


Please share with us some of your most relevant work in the health area and its repercussions?

At the dawn of the Community Clinic era, I served as the founding Executive Director of La Clínica de la Raza from 1970 to 1974. That clinic, and many others like it, has grown tremendously over the last 45 years, and through their combined effort as the California Primary Care Association, these clinics have increased access to health care for underserved communities in California.

In the academic arena, my 1988 book, The Burden of Support: Young Latinos in an Aging Society (Stanford University Press) was the first scholarly work to project that California would be about 45% Latino by 2030. A subsequent book, La Nueva California: Latinos in the Golden State (University of California Press, 2004) used my recent discovery of the Latino Epidemiological Paradox to describe what life will be like when California is about 50% Latino, by 2040.


What are the biggest health problems for Latinos in the US?

Latinos in the U.S. face the major problem of lack of access to healthcare services. Even after the Affordable Care Act has been implemented for over two years, Latinos are still far less likely to have health insurance than any other group. Then, if Latinos have insurance, they tend to live in tremendously underserved neighborhoods. As a result, finding services is difficult, even with insurance coverage.


What are the biggest challenges to the state of Latino health?

Without a doubt the biggest challenge to Latino health is the fact that the strong health behaviors and profiles that immigrants from Latin America bring to U.S. society are seriously weakened in their U.S. born children. Even though U.S. born children will have higher income, more education and greater access to care than their immigrant parents, they will also drink more, smoke more, use drugs more, acquire more sexually transmitted diseases, eat less healthy and become more overweight and obese.  These changes in behaviors between the first (immigrant) generation and the second (U.S. born) generation do not portend well for the future health profile of Latinos in the U.S.


What can be done to increase the number of Latinos to develop a professional career in healthcare?

Many parents immigrate so that their children could have increased educational opportunities. As a country, we should validate and support the immigrant desire for greater educational attainment. This should include making higher education financially accessible to low-income families. Once students are at the college and university level, we need to support their decision to study in Science, Technology and Math (STEM) areas.