Mixed Asian Americans and Health: Navigating Uncharted Waters

Mixed Asian Americans and Health: Navigating Uncharted Waters

Chapter in: Handbook of Asian American Health

pages 129-134
Print ISBN: 978-1-4614-2226-6
eBook ISBN: 978-1-4614-2227-3
DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4614-2227-3

Edited by:

Grace J. Yoo
San Francisco State University
Mai-Nhung Le
San Francisco State University

Alan Y. Oda
Azusa Pacific University, Azusa, California

Chapter Author:

Cathy J. Tashiro, PhD, RN, Associate Professor of Nursing
University of Washington, Tacoma

Over 2.6 million people who self-identified with more than one race in the 2010 U.S. Census claimed Asian ancestry, about 15% of the total population of Asians, making these individuals a significant part of Asian America. Mixed Asian Americans come from a variety of backgrounds, making it difficult to generalize about their health, though some common characteristics have emerged. While research on physical health outcomes of mixed Asian Americans is still limited, there is a growing body of research that may indicate increased risk for behavioral problems among some subgroups. The chapter reviews the existing research and discusses social and genetic factors relevant to the health and wellbeing of mixed Asian Americans.


What are the health implications of being a mixed Asian American? Very little is known about this diverse and rapidly expanding population. The little we do know is complicated by the collision between biological concepts of “race” and the social process of racial categorization. Asian America includes such diverse populations that it’s difficult to make biological generalizations about them. Yet there are some well-established differences between certain Asian groups and the majority population that have important health implications. Two examples will be discussed in this chapter. For people of mixed Asian ancestry who may also have ancestral roots in Europe, Africa, and/or the Americas, the complexities of possible combinations and their implications are daunting. But there is an urgent need to tease apart the social and biological meanings of being a mixed Asian American. Researchers whose studies are discussed in this chapter are beginning to do this important work. Hopefully, in the near future, a mixed Asian American confronted with health risks by race who asks “But what does this mean for me?” will find real answers…

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