Health Disparities



Continued advances in health care, medical technology and a longer average life span have benefited most Americans. However, the benefits haven’t come to all groups equally. Racial and ethnic minorities in the United States experience higher rates of disease, disability and premature death than non-minorities. These health gaps for socially disadvantaged populations are called health disparities. Poverty, unequal access to health care, poor environmental conditions, educational inequalities, individual behaviors and language barriers all contribute to the disparities.

This lesson explores the concept of health disparities for socially disadvantaged groups (e.g., youth of color and LGBT youth). Students are encouraged to examine the causes and impact of these disparities and to create possible solutions for overcoming them.

Additional Resources

  • Racial Disparities Jigsaw Mini Unit: Students investigate racial disparities and their underlying causes and identify steps that individuals and society can take to alleviate them. 
  • Wealth Matters: Classroom experiences that critically investigate the causes and meaning of poverty in our own nation offer students tools for change  and new ways to interpret the world around them.
  • Youth Risk Behavior Survey: The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System monitors priority health-risk behaviors and the prevalence of obesity and asthma among youth and young adults.

Middle Grades (6-8)

High School (9-12)