Racial/Ethnic Residential Segregation, Obesity, and Diabetes Mellitus

Curr Diab Rep. 2016 Nov;16(11):108. doi: 10.1007/s11892-016-0800-0.


Persistent racial/ethnic disparities in obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus seen in the US are likely due to a combination of social, biological, and environmental factors. A growing number of studies have examined the role of racial/ethnic residential segregation with respect to these outcomes because this macro-level process is believed to be a fundamental cause of many of the factors that contribute to these disparities. This review provides an overview of findings from studies of racial/ethnic residential segregation with obesity and diabetes published between 2013 and 2015. Findings for obesity varied by geographic scale of the segregation measure, gender, ethnicity, and racial identity (among Hispanics/Latinos). Recent studies found no association between racial/ethnic residential segregation and diabetes prevalence, but higher segregation of Blacks was related to higher diabetes mortality. Implications of these recent studies are discussed as well as promising areas of future research.

Keywords: Diabetes mellitus; Obesity; Race/ethnicity; Residential segregation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • African Americans
  • Body Mass Index
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / ethnology*
  • Health Status Disparities
  • Hispanic or Latino
  • Humans
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / ethnology*