Health Department Releases Data on the Health of Black New Yorkers by Country of Birth

Among Black groups, US-born Blacks are more likely to suffer from asthma and obesity

November 17, 2016 – The Health Department today released an Epi Data Brief entitled, “Health of Black New Yorkers by Country of Birth.” This data brief highlights differences in health risk factors for chronic diseases and disease prevalence among four Black groups based on their place of birth—US-born Blacks, Caribbean Blacks, African Blacks, and Other Blacks—in New York City (NYC) between 2010 and 2014. The data brief shows that Black New Yorkers born in the US are more likely than Black groups born elsewhere to currently smoke and drink, and more likely to report chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure and obesity. These data serve to reinforce the Health Department’s commitment to address health inequities in NYC and connect New Yorkers to necessary testing and care. The agency has made progress in addressing health issues in every community and promoting effective programs and initiatives—including the Center for Health Equity and Take Care New York 2020—although many disparities remain. The full Epi Data Brief with data tables can be found here.  

“These data are a reminder that communities of color are not monolithic,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “It is sobering that immigrants of African descent, on average, have better health and fewer risk factors than the native born. The City remains committed to reducing these troubling health inequities and ensuring that every New Yorker has the opportunity to live a longer and healthier life.”

Epi Data Brief Highlights
  • Adult US-born Blacks (22 percent) were more likely to be current smokers than Caribbean (6 percent) or Other Blacks (9 percent).
  • While US-born Blacks were more likely to smoke than Whites (17 percent), Caribbean, African and Other Blacks were at least half as likely to be current smokers as Whites.
  • US-born Blacks were more likely to be current drinkers (53 percent) than Caribbean (44 percent) and African (34 percent) Blacks.
  • All Black groups were less likely to be current drinkers than White New Yorkers (70 percent).
  • US-born Blacks (38 percent) were more likely than Caribbean (35 percent) and African (30 percent) Blacks to have high blood pressure (hypertension).
  • There were no appreciable differences in the prevalence of diabetes between Black groups, however US-born (13 percent), Caribbean (15 percent), and Other (14 percent) Blacks were more likely to have diabetes than Whites (7 percent).
  • Among low socioeconomic status (SES) Blacks, only Caribbean Blacks (17 percent) were more likely to report having diabetes than low SES US-born Blacks (13 percent).
  • US-born Blacks (17 percent) had higher rates of asthma than other Black groups (Caribbean Blacks, 9 percent; Other Blacks, 12 percent) and Whites (10 percent).
  • US-born, Caribbean, and Other Blacks were more likely to be obese than Whites (18 percent).
“Good public policy starts with good data,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “When it publishes information like today’s data brief, the Health Department helps all of us focus on the city’s health inequities and how to address them.”

“The de Blasio administration’s initiative to establish the Center for Health Equity is a model for state and local governments around the nation, and its programs like Take Care New York 2020 are proving effective in helping to reduce disparate health care outcomes that negatively affect minority communities. The new data focusing on health risk factors for US-born Blacks, Caribbean Blacks, African Blacks, and “Other” Blacks will further enhance this effort,” said Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried of Manhattan, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Health.

“The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene should be applauded for their decision to focus specifically on the health of Black people through their groundbreaking report entitled Health of Black New Yorkers by Country of Birth. This recently released report will serve as a blueprint for those of us working in partnership with healthcare providers to prevent, treat and cure illness associated with people of African descent. I want to thank Commissioner Basset for her leadership and we look forward to working with the Center for Health Equity in addressing health disparities and connecting New Yorkers to holistic care,” said Council Member Robert E. Cornegy, Jr.

Founded in 2014, the Health Department’s Center for Health Equity amplifies the agency’s work to eliminate health disparities and improve health outcomes in neighborhoods with disproportionately high rates of chronic disease and premature death. The division takes a number of approaches to invest in key neighborhoods, eliminate the social barriers to good health and advance health equity throughout New York City.

In 2015, the de Blasio administration unveiled One New York: The Plan for a Strong and Just City, which aims to ensure that all New Yorkers live a long and healthy life. Premature mortality is closely tied to poverty and lack of access to critical services. The City is committed to reducing the premature mortality rate by 25 percent by 2040, so as to dramatically decrease disparities among racial and ethnic groups. 

In October 2015, the City launched Take Care New York 2020 (TCNY 2020)—a comprehensive health blueprint that identifies key areas for health improvement and for advancing health equity across the city. TCNY 2020 includes an unprecedented community engagement approach, in which community members rank and prioritize health indicators for their neighborhood. The Health Department built on the extensive input received through 28 community consultations across the city and awarded $400,000 in grants to eight organizations to develop neighborhood health action plans to address local health priorities such as obesity, smoking, and high school graduation, among others. Community Health Profiles served as an additional resource in the community consultation process. These profiles highlight inequities for every community district in the city and include 42 health and non-health indicators.

Earlier this year, during the State of the City address, Mayor de Blasio also announced the opening of new community health clinics under the Caring Neighborhoods plan, which will significantly expand primary care services in areas of the city with unmet healthcare needs. He also announced the opening of three new Neighborhood Health Action Centers, which will provide space for primary care and much needed holistic non-clinical services in underutilized City-owned buildings in communities with high rates of premature child and adult mortality.



Christopher Miller/Julien Martinez: (347) 396-4177