Updated on: 10/19/2022


Wellness: Risk Factors

Communities of color are more often marketing targets for unhealthy products. They are also less likely to receive advice and treatment for quitting tobacco.

Note: Hispanic is used to reflect current data collection practices. We acknowledge this may not be the preferred term. Throughout this report, NH refers to Non-Hispanic. People of color refers to individuals identifying as Black, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, Hispanic, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, and Other. Unless otherwise noted, adults are ages 18+. Data are most recently available for the specified data source.

Youth Obesity (2017, 2019)

Hispanic youth report higher rates of obesity as compared to other groups.

Respondents were asked to report their height and weight in the survey and obesity status was categorized based on their Body Mass Index (BMI), which equals weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared. Obese refers to BMI≥95th percentile among youth.

Data suppressed in some race categories.

Other includes American Indian, Alaska Native or Pacific Islander and youth who indicated several ethnicities that did not include Hispanic/Latino.

Data available from the YHS.

Equity Spotlight

Marketing of junk food, sugary drinks, tobacco, and alcohol more often targets communities of color. Retail density and access to these items is also higher in these communities.27, 28, 29, 30, 31

Adult Obesity (2017-2020)

Asian Adults report lower rates of obesity as compared to other groups.

Respondents’ obesity status was categorized based on their Body Mass Index (BMI), which equals weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared. Obese refers to BMI greater than or equal to 30.0 among adults. Respondents were asked to report their height and weight. BRFSS data reflects the non-institutionalized adult (ages 18+) population of Massachusetts.

Statistically significant where alpha = 0.05.

Data available from BRFSS.

Current Smoking & Successful Quitting (2017-2020)

Asian adults report lower rates of current smoking as compared to race groups.

Statistically significant where alpha = 0.05. Data available from BRFSS

Equity Spotlight

People of color are less likely to receive quitting advice from a healthcare professional, and are less likely to be prescribed evidence-based cessation treatments, such as nicotine-replacement therapy (NRT), compared to Whites.32, 33

Download the raw data (accessible version) used to create these visualizations.

27 Harrison, K. (2006). Fast and Sweet: Nutritional Attributes of Television Food Advertisements with and without Black Characters. Howard Journal of Communications, 17(4), 16. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1449399/

28 Outley, C.W. & Taddese, A. (2006). A Content Analysis of Health and Physical Activity Messages Marketed to African American Children During After-School Television Programming. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 160(4), 4. Retrieved from https://jamanetwork.com/journa...

29 Powell, L.M., Szczypka, G., & Chaloupka, F.J. (2007). Adolescent Exposure to Food Advertising on Television. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 33(4), S251-S256. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17884573

30 Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Tobacco Company Marketing to African Americans. Retrieved from https://www.tobaccofreekids.org/research/factsheets/pdf/0208.pdf

31 Grier, S.A. & Kumanyika S.K. (2008). The Context for Choice: Health Implications of Targeted Food and Beverage Marketing to African Americans. American Journal of Public Health, 98(9), 1616-1629. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2509618/

32 Park, E.R., Japuntich, S.J., Traeger, L., Cannon, S., & Pajolek, H. (2011). Disparities between blacks and whites in tobacco and lung cancer treatment. The Oncologist, 16(10):1428-34. DOI: 10.1634/theoncologist.2011-0114

33 Trinidad, D.R., Pérez-Stable, E.J., White, M.M., Emery, S.L., & Messer, K. (2011). A nationwide analysis of US racial/ethnic disparities in smoking behaviors, smoking cessation, and cessation-related factors. American Journal of Public Health, 101(4), 699-706. DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2010.191668

Indicator selection

This report gathered equity metrics found throughout DPH published data reports in one common location. When choosing the indicators to feature in this dashboard, we focused on publicly available data and the State Health Assessment (SHA) priority indicators. In some instances proxy measures were used if race/ethnicity data were limited (e.g. Hepatitis B Vaccinations Rates in place of Viral Hepatitis Prevalence Rates). Only indicators that had sufficient data for breakdowns by race/ethnicity were included.

Time-frame for Data Shown

In all cases, the most recent data for each indicator are incorporated. For some topics (e.g. hospitalizations for various causes), only older data are available by race/ethnicity. However, the goal of this dashboard is to capture the current experiences of this priority population. As such, the years of data presented are different for each chart; we opted for the most recent data available over using the same (older) year across all indicators in the report

Race/Ethnicity Group Definition and Data Collection

This report presents race/ethnicity data as it is collected and defined by each source. DPH complies with the the Federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Standards and have adapted the recommendations to capture this information. We acknowledge that the race/ethnicity breakdowns presented here may not reflect each group's preferred terms. We recognize that race groups are not monolithic. Grouping into larger categories (e.g. Asian) and grouping Hispanic separately (e.g. Black and Hispanic is not a category in this report) is problematic and may not fully capture the experiences specific groups have. Data on language and disability status are not reflected in this version of the report but we plan to include these in future versions. Detailed information on the specific race/ethnicity group definitions and data collection practices can be found using the links to data sources provided for each chart. The DPH Race/Ethnicity/Language Data Standards Guide provides information on current department wide minimum compliance for collecting, defining, and reporting this information.

Data Suppression

For some charts, race/ethnicity groups may not be shown. This varies by data source and reflects insufficient sample size to support reliable estimates or suppression to protect residents privacy. For more information on the DPH suppression guidelines, please see the Department of Public Health Confidentiality Procedures.

Current Analysis

Unless otherwise noted, the differences between race/ethnicity groups in this report are based on descriptive observations (i.e. estimates are higher or lower than others) and key findings for the data shown in charts do not represent statistically significant differences. Any language that indicates statistical significance is taken directly from reports that have performed these analyses separately from this dashboard. For more information on how analyses were performed and definitions for significance, please see the data source notes provided for each chart.

CI refers to Confidence Interval (if available), which describes the certainty of a value. The Department of Public Health uses a 95% confidence interval.

Future Plans

This initial report focuses on communities of color. Additional dashboards on the other priority populations will be created. We also plan to expand dashboard contents including adding more indicators, updating data currently included, and incorporating intersectionality of populations (e.g. data by race/ethnicity and sexual orientation/gender identity).

Visual representations of statistical significance and additional analytics to compare differences between groups will also be incorporated.