Hispanic paradox in biological risk profiles

Am J Public Health. 2007 Jul;97(7):1305-10. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2006.091892. Epub 2007 May 30.


Objectives: We examined biological risk profiles by race, ethnicity, and nativity to evaluate evidence for a Hispanic paradox in measured health indicators.

Methods: We used data on adults aged 40 years and older (n = 4206) from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (1999-2002) to compare blood pressure, metabolic, and inflammatory risk profiles for Whites, Blacks, US-born and foreign-born Hispanics, and Hispanics of Mexican origin. We controlled for age, gender, and socioeconomic status.

Results: Hispanics have more risk factors above clinical risk levels than do Whites but fewer than Blacks. Differences between Hispanics and Whites disappeared after we controlled for socioeconomic status, but results differed by nativity. After we controlled for socioeconomic status, the differences between foreign-born Hispanics and Whites were eliminated, but US-born Mexican Americans still had higher biological risk scores than did both Whites and foreign-born Mexican Americans.

Conclusions: There is no Hispanic paradox in biological risk profiles. However, our finding that foreign-born Hispanics and Whites had similar biological risk profiles, but US-born Mexican Americans had higher risk, was consistent with hypothesized effects of migrant health selectivity (healthy people in-migrating and unhealthy people out-migrating) as well as some differences in health behaviors between US-born and foreign-born Hispanics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Blood Pressure
  • Female
  • Health Status Indicators*
  • Hispanic Americans*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation
  • Male
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Risk Assessment*
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States


  • Biomarkers