Newly released: Recommendations from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America. Time to Act: Investing in the Health of Our Children and Communities calls for action on early childhood, healthy communities, and bridging health and health care. Read the report and explore the charts, infographics, and videos at

Race and Ethnicity

Racial and ethnic background has profound effects on an individual’s health primarily because of the different social and economic experiences – advantages and disadvantages – that go along with race and ethnicity. Although it is no longer legal to discriminate on the basis of race or ethnicity, the legacy of racial inequality and residential segregation has left members of disadvantaged racial or ethnic groups more heavily concentrated in resource-poor neighborhoods, with powerful adverse influences on health (see Community).  


  • Education Is Linked With Health Regardless of Racial or Ethnic Group

    Differences in adult health status by education do not simply reflect differences by racial or ethnic group. Both educational attainment and racial or ethnic group matter.

  • United States: Gaps in Adult Health Status

    In the nation overall, adult health status varies both by level of educational attainment and by racial or ethnic group.

  • United States: Social Factors Affecting Adult Health

    In the United States, health among adults is powerfully linked with social factors such as household income, educational attainment and racial or ethnic group.

  • Across America, Differences in How Long and How Well We Live

    Where we live, work, learn and play dramatically affects our health—for better or for worse. Across America and within every state, there are differences in how long and how well we live. This map and accompanying chart show the highest and lowest life expectancy rates (based on county-level data) found in each state and the District of Columbia.

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  • Stories

    Andrea Silva

    At Centura Health at Home in Denver, Andrea Silva resolved a struggle that many new mothers face – returning to work while continuing to provide nutritious breast milk for her baby. Meet Andrea Silva


    Abang Ojullu

    Abang Ojullu remembers all too vividly the day she put her eldest daughter on a small ambulance jet bound for Sioux Falls. The child’s asthma attack was too severe for doctors in rural Worthington, Minn. to treat. Meet Abang Ojullu


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  • Leadership Blog

    A Closing Word from Risa Lavizzo-Mourey on the Commission to Build a Healthier America

    by Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, President and CEO, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
    December 17, 2009

    After a year and a half, two major reports and national events, three regional field hearings, nine issue briefs, two chart books, and more than 50 meetings with leaders from government and the private sector, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America has come to a close. Read More

    Guest Post: Toward the Healthy City

    by Jason Corburn, Associate Professor, Department of City and Regional Planning, University of California, Berkeley
    November 18, 2009

    What makes a city healthy and how would we know when a city is healthy? This question has challenged planners, public health officials and urban residents from Mesopotamia to modern American cities. Read More

    From Congress to the Cafeteria: Healthy Food is a Priority

    by David R. Williams, Ph.D., Staff Director
    November 03, 2009

    The Commission recognized the importance of nutritious food for improving the health of Americans when it released its recommendations in April. It saw communities without any access to grocery stores and fresh produce, school meals for children containing chicken nuggets, pizza and fries, and a country disconnected from the food system it relies on for its nutritional wellbeing. But recently, the tide has begun to turn. Read More

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News and Events

  • U.S. News & World Report: Poor Education May Lead to Poor Health

    October 12, 2009

    Adults with a poor education are also likely to have poor health, a growing body of evidence suggests. Study after study has confirmed the link, and now experts are zeroing in on the reasons for it and what can be done. Read More

  • LA Times: William H. Frist: Focus on wellness

    September 21, 2009

    True healthcare reform requires a radical reorientation of our health sector to emphasize staying well. For the first time in history, we are raising a generation of children who will live sicker and shorter lives than their parents. Where and how we live, learn, work and play have a greater impact on how long and how well we live than added medical services. Read More

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