The new annual report on the nation’s health, released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, featured racial and ethnic disparities. It showed that Hispanics are living longer than blacks and whites, and the rate of infant deaths has dropped most for black and Puerto Rican women. There are also much fewer uninsured minorities, and smoking rates have steadily fallen since 1999.
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But some gaps persist.
High blood pressure remains much more common among black Americans, and Hispanic children and teens are still more likely to be obese than their black, white and Asian counterparts.
That information can help doctors know what “they should be on the lookout for, and do outreach” focused on prevention, said Julia S. Holmes, Ph.D., lead author of the annual health reports.
Hispanics and blacks are the largest minority populations in the country. According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau estimates from 2014, Hispanics — who can be of any race — make up about 17 percent of the U.S. population. Blacks represent roughly 12 percent of the population.
The lack of affordable, healthy food in certain neighborhoods plays a role in racial disparities, said Marshall Chin, M.D., a primary care doctor who treats mostly working-class black men and women on Chicago’s South Side.
Chin, who has researched health disparities in the U.S., hopes the new report motivates advocacy groups, legislators and Americans overall to pay attention to these health inequities. He said federal and state lawmakers have lacked the political will to make health disparities a priority.