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

The Commission in the News

The Commission’s work to improve the health in America garnered media coverage across the country. See below for an archive of these stories.  

  • 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

  • Idaho Education Association: Investing in Education Reaps Life-Long Benefits

    July 14, 2009

    American adults with the least education have the worst health, according to recent report released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America. Almost half of U.S. adults ages 25 to 74 reported being in less than very good health, and levels of health differ depending on levels of education. Read More

  • NJ Voices: Tobacco Regulation is a Step Toward Better Health Care

    July 6, 2009

    By Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, NJVoices guest blogger. As I watched President Obama sign the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act in the White House Rose Garden, I shared a deep feeling of pride with many public health champions on hand for the ceremony and hundreds of others who fought long and hard for this moment. I also see a roadmap for what prevention can do for health reform. Read More

  • D.C. Region Health Check Up: Wide Differences Based on Location

    June 30, 2009

    A new report detailing the health of residents in the Washington region shows where you live in the area could add or subtract nearly 10 years from your life. The Washington Council of Governments released a joint report detailing the connection between where someone lives in the region and the quality of their health. Read More

  • GOVERNING: Diplomas Keep the Doctor Away

    June 23, 2009

    Last September, I wrote a column about a handful of academics who used a series of charts, graphs and yield curves to show that education plays a key role in one’s ability to make use of health care. What the academics found was that a longer life span was connected to a college degree. Now, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is taking the academic theories one step further. It has looked at research data and found that there’s a direct link between a person’s health and the level of education attained. In short, the higher your degree, the healthier you are. And the conclusions don’t rest on a national snapshot. They look at the link between education and health in every state. Read More

  • The American Prospect: Wealth-Care Reform

    June 19, 2009

    Our health is not determined by what happens inside a hospital ward or a doctor's office. It is determined, as the Robert Wood Johnson report puts it, by "where people live, learn, work and play." We are making health decisions when we choose whether to walk or drive to work, when we fill our bags at the supermarket, when we enroll our children in early-childhood education programs. None of these is specifically a "health care" moment, but in the aggregate, they add up to the state of being we call "health." Read More

  • Grantmakers in Health: Risa Lavizzo-Mourey on the Commission and Expanding the Circle of Allies

    June 15, 2009

    Views from the Field: Many of us have been investigating and working to reduce health disparities for decades. And we have seen the trend lines like writing on the wall. An equation of the health decisions we each make, plus the environment in which we make them, has added up to a nation where we are not nearly as healthy as we could be. Read More

  • New York Times: Letters: After the Great Recession

    May 18, 2009

    President Obama makes a strong case for education as the ticket to getting good jobs and securing the economic future of the nation’s middle class. Here’s another good reason: More education translates to better health. A new report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America demonstrates that people with more education are healthier. Read More

  • Commission Featured at Alliance for Health Reform Briefing

    May 15, 2009

    How much of Americans’ overall health is related non-health care factors? Which factors are most important for good health? What policy changes could provide more opportunities for people to make healthy choices? Members of the Commission addressed these questions at a briefing hosted by the Alliance for Health Reform on May 15. Videos and a podcast of the event are available to be downloaded. Read More

  • New York Times: Unemployment May Be Hazardous to Your Health

    May 8, 2009

    Even as the U.S. Labor Department released figures showing that the economy lost more than half a million jobs in April, researchers on Friday made public a large study with an unsettling finding: Losing your job may make you sick. Read More

  • The Denver Post: Study: Education yields health

    May 6, 2009

    Good health depends on education, according to a new study that shows wide health disparity between college-educated Coloradans and those who didn't finish high school. Read More

  • Asheville Citizen-Times: County Leaders Cite Study to Focus on Health Fix

    April 27, 2009

    Buncombe County Health Director Gibbie Harris said she hopes to convene a health summit later this spring focusing on recommendations in the [RWJF Commission] report. “I think Buncombe County has the opportunity to be the healthiest community in the state, if not the nation,” she said. Read More

  • The Huffington Post: Why Your Zip Code May Be More Important to Your Health Than Your Genetic Code

    April 23, 2009

    By James S. Marks, RWJF. We are not a healthy country. And while health reform focuses on coverage, cost, access and care, this is simply triage to a system that fails to ask the question "Why aren't we healthier in the first place?" Our health reform debate is focusing on where health ends (with medical care) and not on where our health begins (where we live, learn, work and play). Read More

  • LULAC Supports the Recommendations of the RWJF Commission to Build a Healthier America

    April 17, 2009

    LULAC is very pleased to support the recommendations of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America. The members of the Commission should be applauded for helping to expand the discussion surrounding how we reform the country’s health system. In a departure from the prevailing perception, the Commission looked beyond the medical system and found that where we live, learn, work and play has a greater impact on how long and how well we live than medical care. Read More

  • SEIU President Andy Stern's Statement on the RWJF Commission to Build a Healthier America

    April 16, 2009

    The Commission's report offers both policymakers and the public a definitive roadmap and a way forward to building healthier communities. Their recommendations are an extremely valuable addition to the country's healthcare reform debate, and SEIU looks forward to working with the members of the Commission, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, policymakers and other stakeholders to make these proposals a reality. Read More

  • Health Beat: “Beyond Health Care” (Part 1)

    April 6, 2009

    The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Commission to Build a Healthier America has just released a new report: Beyond Health Care. At a time when all eyes are trained on the debate over providing access to medical care for all Americans, the report looks beyond health care, to the health of the population. As it turns out our health—public health—has less to do with health insurance than one might think. Read More

  • Reuters: US experts urge health reforms in schools, cities

    April 2, 2009

    The government should broaden its efforts to overhaul the U.S. healthcare system to include steps that provide better access to good food and recreation, a panel of experts said on Thursday. Read More

  • Denver Field Hearing Webcast Now Available

    January 27, 2009

    The webcast of the December 10 Commission field hearing in Denver exploring the influence of work and the workplace on the health of all Americans is now available. Read More

  • East Tennessean: Building a Healthier America

    January 22, 2009

    Dr. David Williams, the director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America, and a leading authority on the socioeconomic and racial influences and disparities in health, spoke about our nation's health at East Tennessee State University on Tuesday. In addition to the lecture, the Commission planned to travel to several communities in the region as part of a larger effort to understand the unique health issues and challenges facing Appalachia and rural communities. Read More

  • Submit Solutions to the Commission

    January 2, 2009

    Visit to share innovative, specific policies and programs of great promise with the Commission. Read More

  • AMNews: The poorer the kids, the worse their health, study says

    November 4, 2008

    A new report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found substantial shortfalls in the health of the nation's children based on their family's income and education. Read More

  • HealthDay News: Family Income Impacts Children's Health

    October 8, 2008

    For American children, the state they live in and their family's income and education may help determine how healthy they are, a new survey shows. Among children aged 17 and younger, 16 percent are in less than optimal health, according to the state-by-state survey from the nonprofit Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Read More

  • Philadelphia Inquirer: Where You Live Could Affect Life and Life Span

    October 2, 2008

    A public hearing at Temple explores the factors that contribute to health disparities. Read More

  • AHIP Coverage: Creating the Conditions for Health

    July 31, 2008

    Some factors that play a major role in a population’s health transcend the system itself. A new $5 million project by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, called the Commission to Build a Healthier America, is focused on analyzing and making policy recommendations about factors outside “health care” that affect how long and how well Americans live. Read More

  • News & Observer: Scholar: Early stress lingers

    June 13, 2008

    RALEIGH - When children endure abuse or see horrific incidents, their stress can rise to levels that affect not only mental well-being but also lifelong physical health, a Harvard researcher told a gathering of state health leaders Thursday. Read More

  • News & Observer: Health Commission Meets at Marbles Today

    June 12, 2008

    RALEIGH - A national commission gathering information on overcoming obstacles to Americans' health is holding its first field meeting today in downtown Raleigh. Read More

  • NBC 17: National Panel Highlights NC Child Health Care

    June 12, 2008

    RALEIGH - Finding the right child care program isn't always easy. Just ask Hillsborough resident Ricky Hill, who needed help for his infant son. Hill told his story to members of the Commission to Build a Healthier America, which stopped in Raleigh Thursday. It was one of only three stops in its national tour to find out about non-medical programs that are working to improve public health. Read More

  • Occupational Health & Safety: Healthier America Commission Holding First Field Hearing June 12

    June 2, 2008

    The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America will hold its first field hearing June 12 in Raleigh, N.C., to showcase promising programs in early childhood development and testimony from local leaders and national experts about non-medical programs that are improving children's health and wellness. Read More

  • JAMA: Group Seeks to Improve Nonmedical Aspects of Health in the United States

    April 16, 2008

    Because a number of factors outside the medical system have considerable effects on health, experts are working to identify non-medical strategies to improve the well-being of those living in the United States. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has launched a national, independent, and nonpartisan group called the Commission to Build a Healthier America to investigate how factors such as education, environment, income, and housing influence personal choices that affect health. Read More

  • CQ HealthBeat: New Commission Will Study Non-Medical Health Factors

    March 4, 2008

    The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) recently announced the creation of a new national commission to study the impact of issues outside the health care system that affect individuals’ well being. (Subscription Required) Read More

  • WebMD: Social Factors Affect Americans' Health

    February 29, 2008

    While the presidential candidates are busy debating how to reform health insurance, a group of experts says it's going to find out what makes Americans sick before they ever get to the doctor. Read More

  • Washington Examiner: Study: Race, location play roles in life expectancy

    February 28, 2008

    Black Americans are more likely than whites to die from a host of illnesses, from diabetes to heart disease and cancer, a new report says. And where you live may be an even bigger factor than race, wealth or education in determining life expectancy, disease outcomes and other health issues, says the report, released Thursday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Read More

  • Financial Times: US society helping to make people sicker

    February 28, 2008

    Americans should be living four years longer at current rates of healthcare spending, signaling that US society is helping to make people sicker, a report on health inequality said on Thursday. Read More