Health Among Asian New Yorkers

Workers take a smoking break in Chinatown. (Photo by Mike Hong for Voices of NY)

The NYC Department of Health issued its first report that compares health behaviors and outcomes among different Asian populations in the city, as well as against overall measures for all New York residents. An estimated 1.2 million people in the city identify as Asian, or 14 percent of the city’s population. Based on data from the 2015 American Community Survey, the Health Department says that about 65 percent of the city’s Asian residents reported that they were in good health, compared with 86 percent for white residents. The analysis also showed that Asian New Yorkers had a lower prevalence of binge drinking, being overweight or obese compared with other race/ethnic groups.

A key objective of the report, however, was to illuminate the differences between different groups that identify as Asian. For instance, South Asian New Yorkers, which include residents of Indian, Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Nepali ancestries, are at higher risk for hypertension, heart disease and diabetes than other Asian groups. While 9 percent of Chinese have diabetes, lower than the 11 percent prevalence rate for all New Yorkers, the data show that 20 percent of South Asians have diabetes.

On other measures, such as smoking, Chinese New Yorkers demonstrate less healthy behavior than South Asians. The report states that 15 percent of Chinese are current smokers, while 11.4 percent of South Asians are current smokers. (The overall NYC rate is 14.6 percent.) And while 14.1 percent of South Asians are former smokers, only 10.6 percent of Chinese report being former smokers. Across all groups, men had much higher smoking rates than women, with 27 percent of Chinese men reported as current smokers, compared with 17 percent of South Asian men. The Health Department last year partnered with the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center to raise awareness about smoking and mortality rates among Chinese New Yorkers and worked toward reducing smoking rates in the community.

The report also looks at physical activity, health insurance coverage, health care utilization measures such as preventive dental cleaning or visits to a doctor, HIV testing, and more. One striking statistic: Among Asian New Yorkers, Koreans were more likely to be uninsured (17 percent) compared with Chinese (11 percent), Indian (8 percent) and Filipino New Yorkers (8 percent). For more information, access the Department of Health report here.

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