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

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April 2, 2009 Recommendations Release Event: Download the event kit, see the U.S. life expectancy map and watch videos from the April 2 release event.

Where people live, learn, work and play affects how long and how well they live – to a greater extent than most of us realize. For the first time in our history, the United States is raising a generation of children who may live sicker and shorter lives than their parents. Reversing this trend will depend on healthy decisions by each of us, but not everyone in America has the same opportunities to make healthy choices. In many instances, barriers to good health decisions are too high for an individual to overcome. The Commission focused on people and the places where we spend the bulk of our time – homes and communities, schools and workplaces – to identify where people should make healthier choices and where society should remove the obstacles preventing too many American’s from making healthy decisions.

The following recommendations are the result of intensive study and debate, reflecting the need to identify cross-sector interventions beyond the health care system that are likely to achieve a significant positive impact on the health of all Americans in years, not decades. Read more about each recommendation below and download or order a print copy of the Commission’s report, Beyond Health Care: New Directions to a Healthier America.

  • Fund and design WIC and SNAP (Food Stamps) programs to meet the needs of hungry families for nutritious food.
  • Create public-private partnerships to open and sustain full-service grocery stores in communities without access to healthful foods.
  • Feed children only healthy foods in schools.

Read More on Nutrition

  • Require all schools (K-12) to include time for all children to be physically active every day.

Read More on Physical Activity

  • Become a smoke-free nation.  Eliminating smoking remains one of the most important contributions to longer, healthier lives.

Read More on Tobacco

  • Ensure that all children have high-quality early developmental support (child care, education and other services).  This will require committing substantial additional resources to meet the early developmental needs particularly of children in low-income families.

Read More on Early Childhood

  • Create “healthy community” demonstrations to evaluate the effects of a full complement of health-promoting policies and programs.
  • Develop a “health impact” rating for housing and infrastructure projects that reflects the projected effects on community health and provides incentives for projects that earn the rating.
  • Integrate safety and wellness into every aspect of community life.

Read More on Healthy Places

  • Ensure that decision-makers in all sectors have the evidence they need to build health into public and private policies and practices.

Read More on Accountability

what drives health?

Learn more about the factors that affect how long and well we live.

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View the Commission’s recommendations for a healthier America; order the report.

See the report