Puerto Rico

Study Site: San Juan, Puerto Rico
Institution(s): Center for Clinical Research and Health Promotion, University of Puerto Rico – Medical Sciences Campus, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Principal Investigator: Dr. Josie Mattei
Co-Investigators: Dr. Kaumudi Joshipura, Dr. Carlos Ríos-Bedoya
Other team members include Dr. Lydia Lopez, Ms. Sasha Martinez, Dr. Alan Preston, and Ms. Sandra Soltero.

Puerto Rico at a Glance

Area: 13,790 sq km
Population: 3,620,897
Median age: total 38.7 years
Urban population: 99% of total population
Life expectancy: male 75.46 yr; female:  82.8 yr
Diabetes prevealence: 397,100 cases, 15.5% (national prevalence)
Per capita GDP: $16,300
Languages: Spanish, English

Authentic Puerto Rican food (comida criolla) can be summed up in two words: plantains and pork, usually served up with rice and beans. It is rarely if ever spicy, and to many visitors’s surprise has very little in common with Mexican cooking.

Plantains are essentially savoury bananas and the primary source of starch historically, although you will occasionally also encounter cassava and other tropical tubers. Served with nearly every meal, incarnations include:

Mofongo: plantains mashed, fried, and mashed again, when filled up (relleno) with seafood this is probably the best-known Puerto Rican dish of them all.
Tostones:  twice deep-fried plantain chips, best when freshly made “sopa de plátanos” mashed plantain soup.


The World Factbook, 2013-2014. Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency, 2013.

IDF Diabetes Atlas, 6th Edition. Brussels, Belgium: International Diabetes Federation, 2014.