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Allostatic Load Among U.S.- and Foreign-Born Whites, Blacks, and Latinx

Published:December 14, 2020DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2020.08.022

      Introduction

      The objective of this study is to examine how allostatic load, a multidimensional measure of the body's cumulative response to stressors experienced throughout the life course, has changed over time and by age among U.S.- and foreign-born Whites, Blacks, and Latinx.

      Methods

      Data were from 26,818 adult participants in the 2005–2018 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a national repeated cross-sectional study. Allostatic load was measured based on 10 indicators of cardiovascular, metabolic, and immunologic risk. The analyses were conducted in March 2020.

      Results

      Allostatic load increased over time across all groups. The difference between the first and last survey cycle was greatest among U.S.-born Black women (from 2.74 in 2005–2006 to 3.02 in 2017–2018), U.S.-born Latino men (from 2.69 to 3.09) and foreign-born Latino men (from 2.58 to 2.87). Aging gradients in allostatic load were steepest among foreign-born Blacks of both genders and foreign-born Latina women and flattest among U.S.-born and foreign-born Whites.

      Conclusions

      Chronic exposure to stressors leads to an erosion of health that is particularly severe among foreign-born Blacks and Latinx. Policies should seek to reduce exposure to structural and environmental risks and to ensure equitable opportunities to achieve optimal health among racial/ethnic minorities and immigrants.
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