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Reducing Racial Health Disparities

There has been a lot of talk in recent decades, plus hundreds of millions in philanthropic dollars and hundreds of billions in public dollars spent, to address a range of racial disparities in the United States.  

Kids and woman sat round table

And how much has all of that spending increased racial health equity?

Reducing Health Disparities graphic

On the other hand:

We saw a dramatic improvement in health outcomes in low-income schools with racially diverse student bodies, when University of Arizona increased the quantity and quality of physical activity in 20 schools with 16,000 K-12 students:

Fitness graphic

[Please see the Programs page for more details on how this was achieved.]

We also saw major improvements in child obesity among the poorest families in the country, when public schools improved the quality of their free school meals due to higher federal standards, starting in 2013.

This degree of rapid improvement in racial disparities – 4x higher fitness in 3 years, 1/3 reduction in child obesity – is unheard of for large populations in other domains – whether in education, wages, housing…you name it.

For example, schools would love to achieve even a fraction of this degree of growth in reading and math proficiency. Instead, academic performance has barely improved nationally over the last 40 years, while child obesity and teen prediabetes have gone up 3-4x—even as schools sacrificed physical & health education and recess in the vain pursuit of higher test scores.

Depression, Prediabetes and Obesity grpah

Sourced: Prediabetes & Obesity prevalence among children ages 12-19 (Liu et al, 2022) (CDC, 2021).
YRBS Persistent Sadness data. NAEP scores for 13 year olds (Nation’s Report Card, 2020).

What is more, in addition to improving child health, fitness in children bodes very well for future health in adulthood.

Also, clinicians could never expect to achieve this much improvement in health outcomes, unless they used a hyper-expensive “miracle drug” like Ozempic/Wegovy or Monjauro—which would be unaffordable for most individuals. Tens of millions of people would need that drug for the rest of their lives, at a cost of hundreds of billions of dollars annually nationwide.

The bottom line: To improve the health of blacks, Latinos, Native-Americans—indeed, of all Americans—in a major way—major accountable investments need to be made in schools.

Healthy Students Healthy State gets us there.