Diabetes among US-and foreign-born blacks in the USA

Nicole D. Ford, K. M.Venkat Narayan, Neil K. Mehta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Objective. Little is known about diabetes status among US blacks by nativity. This study aims to measure differences in diabetes among US blacks by region of birth and examines potential explanations for subgroup differences.Design. Data from 47,751 blacks aged 25-74 pooled from the 2000-2013 waves of the National Health Interview Survey were analyzed. Logistic regression models predicted self-reported diabetes. The roles of education, income, body mass index (BMI), smoking, and duration of US residence were explored.Results. Compared to the US-born, foreign-born blacks had significantly lower reported diabetes prevalence (8.94% vs. 11.84%) and diabetes odds ratio [OR: 0.75; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.62, 0.89], adjusting for socio-demographic characteristics. Further inclusion of education, income, household size, and smoking did not appreciably change the OR (0.77; 95% CI: 0.61, 0.86). Including an adjustment for BMI entirely eliminated the foreign-born advantage (OR 0.93; 95% CI: 0.78, 1.11). The foreign-born from the Caribbean/Americas had similar diabetes odds compared to the African-born. Among the foreign-born, an increased duration of US residence was associated with a higher diabetes odds, but these associations did not reach statistical significance (p > 0.05).Conclusion. The healthy immigrant advantage extended to diabetes among US blacks, a finding that is explained by lower levels of overweight/obesity among the foreign-born compared to the US-born. Nonetheless, more than 71.4% of the foreign-born were overweight or obese. Understanding the mechanisms through which exposure to the US environment leads to higher obesity and diabetes risk may aid prevention efforts for the rapidly growing foreign-born black subpopulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-84
Number of pages14
JournalEthnicity and Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • African Americans/blacks
  • diabetes
  • immigration
  • obesity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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