Disparities in obesity and diabetes among foreign-born and US-born Blacks in New York City

March 12, 2018 | Press Releases & Announcements

In New York City, black African and Caribbean immigrants constitute 23 percent of the entire foreign-born population. In addition, the eighth largest and fastest growing group of foreign-born residents in the city is West Africans, with a population growth of 60 percent since 2000. The US Census estimates that, by 2060, 16.5 percent of the US black population will be foreign-born. But research is limited on the health of foreign-born blacks, as studies often lump them in with African Americans.

Dr. Terry Huang, Professor of Community Health and Director of the Center for Systems and Community Design at CUNY SPH, and Dr. Margrethe Horlyck-Romanovsky, a recent doctoral graduate from CUNY SPH, co-led a study to investigate how the odds of obesity and diabetes differed between foreign-born blacks and US-born blacks in NYC, using five years of data from the NYC Community Health Survey, 2009-2013. The findings were published in the Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health.

Huang, Horlyck-Romanovsky, and their team found that foreign-born blacks experience higher odds of diabetes even at lower levels of BMI, compared to US-born blacks.

“Results suggest that there is large heterogeneity within the black population, and that it is problematic to combine all black populations in epidemiological analysis or prevention and treatment interventions,” Huang said.


Horlyck-Romanovsky, M.F., Wyka, K., Echeverria, S.E. et al. J Immigrant Minority Health (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10903-018-0708-7