Health Disparities Continue for California’s Latinos and African Americans

image002Health disparities persist for California’s 9.8 million Latino adults, whose rates for obesity, fair or poor health, food insecurity and lack of insurance are higher than the state average, according to an updated race and ethnicity health profiles report published this week by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

The Center drew upon the 2012-2013 California Health Interview Survey data that also showed that African Americans 18 and over have the highest rates of high blood pressure (36.9 percent), obesity (35.9 percent) and current smoking (19.5 percent). About 11.5 percent of them have serious psychological distress.

Data on four major racial groups in the state were parsed – white, Latino, African-American and Asian. Health profiles were built after taking into account such factors as health behaviors, health outcomes, English language proficiency and food insecurity. An estimated 2.7 million Latino adults overall are food insecure.

Data also revealed wide gaps in health between Latino ethnic groups. For example, nearly 40 percent of Salvadorans report fair or poor health, compared to 12.8 percent of South Americans and 30.8 percent of Latinos overall.

Similar disparities emerge between Asian ethnic groups, although rates for Asians overall are generally equal to or better than the state average. There is a greater percentage of binge drinkers among South Asians (23.3 percent) and Filipinos (25.5 percent) than among other Asian groups, and Asians overall (21.3 percent). But at 3.6 percent, South Asians have the smallest proportion of smokers and Koreans the largest (17.0 percent). A small proportion of Vietnamese (26.2 percent), Japanese (25.9 percent) and South Asians (26.3 percent), said they engaged in regular walking in the past week, compared to Asians overall (34.0 percent).

Other findings that surface from data collected on the state’s 28.2 million adults include:

• Salvadoran (46.6 percent) and non-U.S.-born Mexican adults (37.2 percent) have difficulty reliably putting food on the table.

• African Americans have the highest rates of high blood pressure (36.9 percent) and obesity (36.9 percent).

• Whites have the second-highest rates of high blood pressure and smoking (30.1 percent and 14.3 percent) and the highest rate of binge drinking.

• At 8.5 percent, the diabetes rate of all Asian adults is nearly identical to that of the state (8.6 percent). However, the largest proportion of those with the disease is among Filipinos, at 14 percent.

• Among Latino groups, South Americans (6.3 percent) have the lowest proportion of serious psychological disorders; Salvadorans have double that amount (12.7 percent).

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