Health Disparities in the Latino Population

“Bad neighborhoods” may reinforce unhealthy behavior among the children of Latino immigrants. However, tightly woven social bonds, formed within their native countries, insulate and protect foreign-born Latino immigrants from these detrimental environmental factors.

In epidemiology, deterministic analysis examines the root causes of health disparities among population groups. In the context of the U.S. Latino population, these factors include inadequate access to health care, unhealthy lifestyle behaviors, and adverse residential conditions. Latino immigrants, born outside of the U.S., however, have lower mortality rates than subsequent, U.S. born generations.

This article from Epidemiologic Review presents a deterministic analysis of conditions of mortality rates among U.S. Latinos. The authors scanned approximately 2,000 articles published between 2002 and 2009; they report mortality rates among Latinos for cancer, diabetes, liver disease, homicide and work-related injury.

Key Findings:

  • Unhealthy immigrants sometimes return to their country of origin, improving mortality rates for those that remain in the U.S.
  • Factors associated with Latino health disparities—e.g., diet, smoking and alcohol use—are “unnecessary and avoidable.”

This review of existing evidence discusses the deterioration of healthy behaviors among descendents of Latino immigrants. The authors argue for environmental, policy and behavioral changes to improve the health of Latino communities.