No Black, White Health Gap in Canada, Says Study

A study shows that Black Canadians have lower rates of diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

Posted: 09/27/2011 01:18 PM EDT
Filed Under health care

Black canadians are healthier than white citizens

Get your parkas ready Black folks, it seems a move to Canada may be in order.

A study of race-based health disparities in Canada showed that Blacks are as equally healthy as their white counterparts.

Not only are Black Canadians overall equally healthy as whites, data from health surveys showed that Blacks born in Canada have better rates of health than whites when it comes to diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes; long known as characteristic to the Black community in America.

The study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, found that only nine percent of Blacks born in Canada had high blood pressure, compared to 21 percent of whites. In the U.S., 35 percent of Blacks had high blood pressure and 28 percent of whites, writes Reuters. And while six percent of whites had diabetes, only two percent of Black Canadians were afflicted with the disease that currently affects 14.7 percent of African-Americans.

Thomas A. LaVeist, a co-author of the study and director of the Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions in Baltimore says that he believes America’s history of treating Blacks as second-class citizens plays a large role in the Black-white health disparity that exists in the U.S.

"That is what I think is fueling the disparity we see in the U.S.," LaVeist told Reuters Health.

Another factor for the results could be the fact that Canada had a brief encounter with slavery compared to the U.S., writes Reuters, and many African-Canadians are recent immigrants.

"We know that recent immigrants tend to be healthier than the native populations in a country," LaVeist said in his interview.

He cautioned that the results could have significant limitations because the survey included just 729 Blacks, compared with more than 280,000 whites.

LaVeist also mentioned that Canada’s system of universal healthcare might also be “part of the puzzle” to explain why the large race disparities that exist in America, do not in Canada.

Next year, scientists, scholars and advocates will gather to discuss the health issues facing slave descendants in the Americas at the International Conference on Health in the African Diaspora in Baltimore.

(Photo: REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly)