Health Ecosystems

Social determinants of health or health ecosystems are the conditions into which people are born, grow, live, work, and age.

These circumstances are shaped by the distribution of money, power, and resources at global, national, and local levels.

Two houses pictured side by side. The left house has nice paint and a new roof, and the right house has debris on the walls and a roof that is falling apart.

Everyone deserves an optimal and just opportunity to be healthy, giving special attention to the needs of those at greatest risk of poor health and no one is disadvantaged from achieving their potential because of social position or any other socially defined circumstance.

The benefits of advances in prevention and treatment have not been shared equally across economic, racial, and ethnic groups.

Overall population health cannot improve if all parts of the population do not benefit. Medical care is estimated to account for only 10-20% of modifiable contributors to healthy outcomes for a population. The other 80-90% are broadly referred to as the social determinants of health: health related behaviors, socioeconomic factors and environmental factors.

A street with buildings and vehicle traffic


An estimated 1 in 8 Americans do not have consistent access to healthy foods. That is 40 million Americans including more than 12 million children.

Housing stability, quality, safety, and affordability all affect health outcomes, as do physical and social characteristics of neighborhoods.

Low-income communities of color are bearing disproportionate burden from air pollution, and the air pollution related to vehicle traffic is the source of most of the problem.

Health Equity in the Workplace

The American Heart Association’s CEO Roundtable is working to eliminate workplace inequities that harm the health and well-being of employees, businesses and communities. The Roundtable’s new report, developed by business leaders and health experts, provides actionable strategies and principles employers can use to build toward health equity.
group of diverse people in a work environment posing for photo while smiling