To describe these changes, the Kansas Health Institute has released a new publication, Chartbook: Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities in a Changing Kansas. This more than 750 page book is the most extensive look at disparities across ethnic and racial lines in Kansas since the 2005 book “Racial and Ethnic Minority Health Disparities in Kansas.”

The book, describes the population of Kansas in order to identify disparities that may exist and provides data that will spark conversations about the needs of communities across the state.

Over the past decades, the racial and ethnic composition of the population in Kansas has changed significantly. The number of White residents in the state have decreased by 5,000, while the number of minority residents of the state has increased by 52%.

In 2003, at a population of 161,766, African Americans were already the second largest minority group behind Hispanics. In 2015, the African-American population in Kansas had grown by 19% to 192,710, while the state’s Hispanic population had grown by nearly 80% from 188,252 to 338,481. In 2003, minorities comprised just 15.9% of the state’s population. In 2015 minorities were approach 25% of the state’s population.

Overall health outcomes may be impacted by these changes in the population, with different population groups exposed to different social determinants of health, including education, income, crime, nutrition, access to care and more. 

The mission of KHI is to improve the health of all Kansans by supporting effective policymaking, engaging at the state and community levels, and providing nonpartisan, actionable and evidence-based information. To support this mission, KHI developed this update to their original report for two primary purposes: 1) providing consolidate updated health information for the populations of Kansas in one location; and 2) identifying health disparities that impact Kansans across the state.

Individuals, as well as elected officials on the state and local level will benefit from looking at this information. The disparities are noticeable, and if the minority population in Kansas continues to expand, the state can be expected to see an increase in many negative indicators of health unless policies, programs or educational campaigns are put in place to reverse these trends.

For example, the overall unemployment rate in Kanas was 5.9% in 2015, but when those numbers are disaggregated by race, you find the unemployment rate for African Americans is 12.8% — the highest in the state – and 8.1% for Hispanics. While it’s easy to say Kansas has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, the numbers don’t look so good for the state’s African- American community.

Possibly one reason unemployment rates are so high among African Americans is because of the disproportionately high number of African-American households without a car, often a necessity to get to a job. While the percentage of households without a car in Kansas is 5.2%, the disaggregated numbers show that 16.2% of African-American households don’t have a working automobile, compared to 4.5% of White household and 5.3% of Hispanic households.

In some areas, all Kansans are doing poorly. Adults who indi cate they haven’t engaged in any physical activity in the past month averaged 25.3%, with very little racial disparity.

An average of 65.8% of adults in Kansas are overweight and 41.0% are obese. While there was very little disparity in race on these numbers, African Americans were at the high end of both of these numbers with 71.8% of African Americans in the state overweight and 41.0% obese.

Want to see more of these interesting charts on Kansans, the report is available free online at

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