Health Department Releases First Comprehensive Report on the Health of Latinos in New York City

Report outlines health outcomes across 51 indicators for the largest Latino heritage groups in New York City: Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Mexicans, and Central and South Americans

For the first time, Latinos are disaggregated by place of birth and heritage, enhancing insight into the complexities of health for this important group

September 27, 2017 — The Health Department today released “Health of Latinos in New York City,” a comprehensive report of 51 indicators describing the health of the largest Latino heritage groups in New York City: Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Mexicans, and Central and South Americans. Latinos from 20 different countries make up 29 percent of the city’s population – its second largest ethnic group, following non-Latino Whites (32 percent). The report highlights key demographics, as well as socioeconomic, housing and neighborhood conditions that may impact the health of Latino New Yorkers, such as employment, education, rent burden and incarceration. Moreover, it examines three different critical public health areas: healthy living, health status and health care, and birth and death outcomes. The report was developed in consultation with the Hispanic Federation, the Children’s Aid Society, the Dominican Women’s Development Center, and eight Latino health researchers and scholars from leading New York City-based hospitals and academic organizations.

Overall, despite having fewer social, economic and health care opportunities compared with other New Yorkers, Latinos have lower rates of premature death than non-Latinos. This could be, in part, due to a lower prevalence of smoking and alcohol consumption and higher rates of screening for breast cancer and HIV, compared with non-Latinos. However, death rates due to diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and unintentional drug-related deaths are higher among Latinos. Generally, health outcomes are better among Latino immigrants who have lived in the United States for less than 10 years, compared with those who have lived in the U.S. for 10 years or more. A key focus of the report is to highlight the differences in outcomes across heritage groups. For example, Puerto Rican adults have a higher smoking prevalence than non-Latino adults. The differences in health by Latino heritage may be due to racial/ethnic discrimination, varying barriers to migration, acculturation and structural barriers — including policies that restrict access to social services and racial residential segregation. The full report can be found in English (PDF) and Spanish (PDF).

“As a physician and public health practitioner — as well as a Latina who grew up in the Bronx – I know firsthand the complex social, economic, and environmental factors that can impact someone’s health,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Dr. Herminia Palacio. “This report lets us dig deeper into understanding the important differences in health outcomes among Latinos, who make up nearly a third of our City’s residents. The report also recognizes that Latinos are a magnificent collection of individuals with diverse cultural backgrounds, rather than one homogenous group. This important insight will help us to deepen our commitment to advance the wellbeing of all New Yorkers, in collaboration with our agencies and community partners.”

“As New Yorkers, we take pride in our diversity and this report celebrates that diversity by examining the differences in risk factors and outcomes within the Latino community,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “By highlighting the unique challenges and disparities present in various heritage groups, we will be able to better inform policies and improve health outcomes for years to come. I thank our community partners and staff for their dedication and commitment to this report. This unprecedented effort reaffirms our commitment to improving the lives of every New Yorker.”

“The ‘Health of Latinos in New York City’ report represents an exciting opportunity to use data to advance health equity across a diverse population with roots to twenty unique countries,” said First Deputy Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “Latinos are not a homogenous group. Disaggregating data by heritage group can help the health sector, community organizations and activists illustrate both the vibrancy of Latino communities and the challenges caused by structural racism.”

“By working with our community partners to develop this report, we are learning from our city’s rich diversity so that we can continue improving the lives of not only Latino New Yorkers, but New Yorkers from all backgrounds,” said Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez, Senior Advisor to the Mayor. “These findings will be critical tools in the fight to eliminate health disparities in our neighborhoods, because the more we know – the better we can serve our communities. I applaud the Health Department and our community partners for gathering these insights in a thorough yet culturally conscious way, so that we can learn from our differences and use those insights to continue providing high-quality health services to all New Yorkers.”

“Children’s Aid has deep roots in the communities we serve and care so deeply for,” said Children’s Aid Chief Program Officer Miriam Martinez, PhD. “Having the data provided by this rich and comprehensive report will drive forward our work to uplift and ensure healthier communities. We look forward to working with our community partners to address the unique challenges our communities face.”

The Health of Latinos in New York City report includes:

Overall health of Latino versus non-Latino New Yorkers

  • Latino adults have a lower prevalence of alcohol drinking (51 percent versus 58 percent).
  • Latino adults have a lower smoking rate (12 percent versus 15 percent).
  • Latina women ages 40 and older are more likely to have had a mammogram in the past two years (82 percent versus 73 percent).
  • Among adults and high school students, Latinos are more likely to have ever been tested for HIV (25 percent versus 20 percent for non-Latino high school students; 76 percent versus 58 percent for non-Latino adults).
  • Latino adults are more likely to report needing medical care but not getting it (12 percent versus 9 percent).
  • The most common types of cancer — including breast, lung, prostate, colon and rectal — are generally lower among Latinos, with the exception of liver cancer which is more common among Latino men (23.6 per 100,000 men versus 16.6 per 100,000 in non-Latino men).

  • Latinos have a higher prevalence of diabetes (17 percent versus 10 percent) and obesity (32 percent versus 21 percent).
  • Latinos have a higher death rate due to unintentional drug overdose (16.2 per 100,000 versus 12.6 per 100,000 people).

Health of Latinos born in the U.S. and territories versus Latinos born outside of the U.S.
Latinos born in the United States and territories represent 58 percent of all Latinos in New York City. Among Latinos born outside of the U.S., 74 percent have lived in the country for 10 years or more. In addition, a higher percentage of Latinos born outside of the U.S. – especially recent immigrants – are uninsured compared with U.S.-born Latinos (30 percent versus 8 percent). Compared with Latinos born outside of the country, Latinos born in the country are:

  • More likely to be current smokers (22 percent versus 7 percent)
  • More likely to consume sugary drinks (35 percent versus 28 percent)
  • Over five times more likely to die from an unintentional drug overdose (31.1 versus 5.8 per 100,000 people)
  • More than twice as likely to die prematurely (229.3 versus 102.7 per 100,000 people)

Differences by Latino Heritage
Heritage is defined by how someone identifies their Latino heritage, regardless of where they were born. Overall, Latinos of Puerto Rican heritage — whether born on the island or mainland – are more likely to have more adverse health outcomes than other Latino heritage groups.

  • Smoking: Puerto Rican adults are more likely to smoke (25 percent), whereas Dominican adults (6 percent) and Central and South American (7 percent) adults are less likely to smoke than non-Latino adults (15 percent).
  • Sugary drink consumption: Forty percent of Puerto Rican adults drink one or more sugary drinks per day versus 21 percent of non-Latino adults.
  • Physical Activity: Compared with non-Latino adults (71 percent), Dominican adults are less likely to do 150 minutes or more of moderate exercise every week (53 percent), while Mexican adults (76 percent) and Puerto Rican adults (70 percent) exercise at about the same rate as non-Latino adults.
  • Obesity: Among Latinas, Puerto Rican adults have the highest rate of obesity (38 percent), followed by Dominican adults (36 percent). Among Latino men, Mexican adults have the highest rate (36 percent), followed by Puerto Rican adults (35 percent).
  • Asthma: The prevalence of asthma is nearly three times as high among Puerto Rican adults (27 percent) compared with non-Latino adults (10 percent).
  • Premature Death: Puerto Rican New Yorkers have a much higher rate of premature death than other heritage groups – 262.4 per 100,000 people, after which the number drops to 128.4 per 100,000 people in Other Latino New Yorkers (Cuban, Spaniard, and other non-specific Latino or Hispanic New Yorkers).
  • Binge Drinking: Binge drinking is more than twice as high among Mexican adults (36 percent) than non-Latino adults (17 percent).
  • Health Insurance: Central and South American adults are over three times and Mexican adults are six times as likely to be uninsured (29 percent and 54 percent respectively) compared with non-Latino adults (9 percent).
  • Condom Use: Mexican adults are more likely (54 percent) and Dominican adults (24 percent) are less likely than non-Latino adults (31 percent) to report using a condom the last time they had sex.
  • Unintentional Drug Overdose: Among Latino New Yorkers who died of a drug overdose, almost two-thirds are of Puerto Rican heritage. U.S.-born Latino New Yorkers are over five times more likely than Latino New Yorkers born outside of the U.S. to die from an unintentional drug overdose (31.1 versus 5.8 per 100,000 people).

“Today’s report serves as a stepping-stone to better serve Latinos’ health care needs and bridge the gap amongst the different sub groups in our city,” said Rep. Jose Serrano. “This will help us identify patterns to prevent health issues specific to different heritage groups within the Latino community. I applaud Mayor de Blasio for taking on this important project for our City’s public health.”

“Health challenges facing the Latino community are not monolithic,” said Rep. Adriano Espaillat (NY-13). “I commend the New York City Health Department for this latest report investigating the health disparities among the Latino community and acknowledging the distinct differences based on countries of origin and length of residency in the United States. By understanding the circumstances contributing to various health disparities, we are now be better equipped to address the unique needs and challenges facing our community. Together, we will help close the gap in health disparities that affect each of us.”

“All New Yorkers deserve access to quality health care services. Furthermore, improving health outcomes starts by addressing disparities,” said Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY). “By examining the state of Latino health in New York City, lawmakers will be better informed and, ultimately, will be able to identify the resources necessary to best meet our City’s health needs. I applaud all those involved in producing this comprehensive and groundbreaking.”

“I commend the leadership of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and community organizations for compiling this important report that sheds a necessary light on the health of our City’s largest Latino heritage groups,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. “This effort will provide our City with a comprehensive overview of the progress made in these communities to improve key health indicators, while properly assessing the challenges and disparities that continue affecting our Latino communities."

“To drive improvement, we need data. This unprecedented, comprehensive report on the health of Latino New Yorkers will provide invaluable data to health care providers, policymakers, and researchers in the effort to eliminate health disparities among New York City’s diverse communities,” said Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried.

“This report offers detailed insight into the health of disparities of our City’s Latino community. With this valuable knowledge we can continue to focus efforts on engaging and educating Latinos about health risks and ensure that they get the services needed to live a healthier life,” said Assembly Member Robert J. Rodriguez.

“As the Trump administration ignores the devastation of our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico, I’m proud that our City embraces the diversity and strength provided by Latinx New Yorkers,” said Council Member Corey Johnson, Chair of the Health Committee. “Information provided in this report will help shape health policy in New York for the better and I’m proud to work alongside such an effective and inclusive Health Department. Thanks to Commissioner Bassett and all of the advocate organizations whose work produced this invaluable information.”

“I was very impressed by the report and the breakdown of the data across various characteristics of the Latino community,” said Jairo Guzman, President of the Mexican Coalition. “This report will help me ask the right questions regarding the health of our community and also question the answers or interventions that our systems of care currently provide.”

"DOHMH’s groundbreaking report on the health of Latinos in our city will help us address historic health inequities,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams. “I thank DOHMH Commissioner Bassett for leading this analysis, so that we have comprehensive raw data to assist in implementing policies that pertain to the unique needs of Dominicans, Mexicans, Central and South Americans, and Puerto Ricans, many of whom call Brooklyn home. Targeting prevalent issues such as asthma, drug use, and obesity will help us move forward in raising healthier children and families."

About the Center for Health Equity
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 social barriers to good health and advance health equity throughout New York City. For more information on the Center for Health Equity, visit Follow the Center for Health Equity on social media using #NYCHealthEquity.

About Take Care New York
Take Care New York 2020 is the Health Department’s blueprint for a healthier life for everyone. With TCNY 2020, the Health Department is working together with community residents and partners to identify their most important health priorities and to improve the health of their neighborhoods. For more information about Take Care New York 2020, visit

Through the Take Care New York 2020 Neighborhood Health Initiative, the Health Department supports eight community partners in advancing shared health equity goals. We offer ongoing opportunities for our partners to build their capacity as agents of change in the community who promote health equity through changes in policies, systems, and neighborhood conditions. Specific issues that our partners are working to address include:

  • Lack of employment opportunities for youth of color, including Latino youth, in the northwest Bronx
  • Poor-quality housing affecting the health of many Latino immigrants in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan
  • Limited affordable and safe opportunities for fitness in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn

About OneNYC
The goal of OneNYC: The Plan for a Strong and Just City is to ensure that all New Yorkers live a long and healthy life. Premature mortality is closely tied to poverty, which in New York City correlates with communities of color that have long undergone structural and historical oppression. Under the OneNYC plan, the City has committed to reducing the premature mortality rate by 25 percent by 2040.



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