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Beyond Race/Ethnicity: Skin Color and Cardiometabolic Health Among Blacks and Hispanics in the United States


We investigated whether darker interviewer-ascribed skin color is associated with worse cardiometabolic health among young adult Blacks and Hispanics in the United States. Our sample was comprised of 2,128 non-Hispanic Blacks and 1603 Hispanics aged 24-32, who were in high school in the United States in 1994. We used logistic and OLS regression to predict obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and cardiometabolic risk. We tested the interaction between Hispanic immigrant generation and ascribed skin color. Darker ascribed skin color predicted worse cardiometabolic health among both young adult Blacks and Hispanics. Among Hispanics, the associations were strongest among third and higher generation respondents. Our findings suggest that among US Blacks and Hispanics how individuals are perceived by others via their skin color is significantly associated with their health and well-being. Gradients in cardiometabolic health in young adulthood will likely contribute to gradients in cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality later in life.

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The funding were provided by UNC Gillings School of Public Health and National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (US) (Grant No. T32 HD007168 and R24 HD050924).

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Correspondence to Krista M. Perreira.

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Wassink, J., Perreira, K.M. & Harris, K.M. Beyond Race/Ethnicity: Skin Color and Cardiometabolic Health Among Blacks and Hispanics in the United States. J Immigrant Minority Health 19, 1018–1026 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10903-016-0495-y

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  • Race/ethnicity
  • Skin color/tone
  • Cardiometabolic health
  • Hispanic/Latino
  • Black