EGG HARBOR CITY - At least 16 health and social service agencies will participate Saturday in the Latino Club of Egg Harbor City's first Health Fair.

Organizer Ingrid Clark said there is a great need for Hispanic people to get more information about health care and healthy living.

Clark, 32, grew up in a Hispanic family in Egg Harbor City. she now works as a legal assistant for a law firm and lives in Galloway Township.

"The traditional Latino diet isn't quite the healthiest of foods," Clark said. "It's geared more towards taste than health and nutrition."

She said anyone is welcome to participate, ethnic Latino or not.

Hispanics or Latinos are defined by the federal Office of Management and Budget as persons "of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race."

According to the state Department of Health's Office of Minority and Multicultural Health, more than a third of the Latino population living in New Jersey lacks health insurance - significantly more than the black population at about 22 percent uninsured and the white population at about 9 percent uninsured.

Childhood obesity is highest among Latinos, and Hispanic women are less likely to engage in physical activity than either white or black women, according to the Latino Health Institute of New Jersey.

The two biggest killers of Hispanics are also the biggest killers of the U.S. population as a whole, with heart disease and stroke at No. 1 and cancer at No. 2, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control.

But diabetes is a growing problem that kills Hispanics in disproportionate numbers. The disease is the seventh leading cause of death for all people nationally, but the fifth leading cause of death for Latinos, according to the CDC.

The CDC estimates lifetime risk for developing diabetes is higher for both Hispanic men and women than for other ethnic groups. Hispanic women born in 2000 have a 52.5 percent risk of developing diabetes in their lifetime while Hispanic men have a 45.4 percent risk. That compares with a 31.2 percent risk for non-Hispanic white females and 26.7 percent risk among non-Hispanic white males; and a 49 percent and a 40.2 percent risk among African American women and men respectively.

Another important issue is cancer awareness, Clark said.

"It's something affecting more and more Latinos, and they don't know the type of resources out there to get help, so they push it aside till it's too late," Clark said.

"Three of my aunts have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Two have passed away and one is still fighting it," Clark said.

Organizations that will provide testing or other activities at the fair include:

•The Atlanticare Ruth Newman Shapiro Cancer and Heart Fund Mobile Digital Mammography Van. For appointments call 800-246-2404.

•The Atlantic County Division of Public Health will provide glucose (12-hour fasting), cholesterol and blood pressure screenings.

•The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey Speech and Hearing Club will conduct free hearing tests.

•The Atlantic County Sheriff's Department will conduct child safety seat checks.

•In conjunction with Tanger Outlets The Walk in Atlantic City and the American Cancer Society, the Latino Club will sell the Pink Discount Card to raise money toward breast cancer research.

Contact Michelle Brunetti Post:

609-272-7219