Minority Health & Disparities

Health disparities are of growing concern in the United States. A health disparity is when a health outcome is seen to a greater or lesser extent in certain populations. They can be caused by several different factors including, genetics, the environment and access to health care. Below are health disparities for several different populations in the United States.

African Americans or blacks: 

  • African Americans account for 32% of kidney failure cases
  • The death rate for all cancers is 30% higher for blacks than for whites
  • Black women have a higher death rate from breast cancer
  • Adult obesity rates in the U.S. for African Americans are higher than those for whites
  • African Americans have higher rates of diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease


  • The risk of being diagnosed with diabetes is 66% higher among Hispanics than non-Hispanic white adults
  • Nearly 40% of Latinos over the age of 20 were obese in 2008
  • In 2008, obesity rates were higher in Hispanic women than Hispanic men
  • Hispanic women contract cervical cancer at twice the rate of white women
  • Hispanics live longer than other Americans

 Asian American:

  • The risk of being diagnosed with diabetes is 18% higher among Asian Americans than whites
  • 1 in 10 Vietnamese and Korean adults are underweight
  • Asian Americans have higher rates of certain types of cancer, tuberculosis, and Hepatitis B
  • Vietnamese-American women have cervical cancer rates five times those of white women.
  • Asian-American women have the highest suicide rate of all women over age 65 in the U.S.

American Indians and Alaskan Natives:

  • The diabetes rate for American Indians and Alaska Natives is more than twice that of whites
  • The prevalence of being overweight and obesity is higher than that for any other population group
  • American Indian and Alaska Native women have twice the rate of stroke than white women
  • Suicide is the eighth leading cause of death for American Indians and Alaska Natives
  • American Indian and Alaska Native youth have more serious mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse than other racial and ethnic groups

Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander:

  • In comparison to other racial and ethnic groups, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders have higher rates of smoking, alcohol consumption, and obesity
  • The state of Hawaii found that the diabetes rate for Native Hawaiians was twice that of the white population
  • Native Hawaiians are also more than 5.7 times as likely as whites living in Hawaii to die from diabetes
  • Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders are 30 percent more likely to be diagnosed with cancer compared to non-Hispanic whites


Jaime Venditti, State Coordinator, New York Health Works