Cardiometabolic Health in African Immigrants to the United States: A Call to Re-examine Research on African-descent populations

Ethn Dis. 2015 Aug 7;25(3):373-80. doi: 10.18865/ed.25.3.373.


In the 20th century, Africans in Sub-Saharan Africa had lower rates of cardiometabolic disease than Africans who migrated. However, in the 21st century, beyond infectious diseases, the triple epidemics of obesity, diabetes and hypertension have taken hold in Africa. Therefore, Africans are acquiring these chronic diseases at different rates and different intensity prior to migration. To ensure optimal care and health outcomes, the United States practice of grouping all African-descent populations into the "Black/African American" category without regard to country of origin masks socioeconomic and cultural differences and needs re-evaluation. Overall, research on African-descent populations would benefit from a shift from a racial to an ethnic perspective. To demonstrate the value of disaggregating data on African-descent populations, the epidemiologic transition, social, economic, and health characteristics of African immigrants are presented.

Keywords: African Diaspora; African Immigrants; Cardiometabolic Health; Cardiovascular Disease; Health Disparities; Migration.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Africa South of the Sahara / ethnology
  • Black or African American*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / ethnology*
  • Emigrants and Immigrants*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / ethnology
  • Obesity / ethnology*
  • Racial Groups*
  • United States / epidemiology