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African American Health: Creating Equal Opportunities for Health

The current MMWR is being updated concerning the described crossover effect where adjusted and age-specific data were not distinguished.

The death rate for African Americans dropped 25% from 1999-2015, but they are still more likely to die at a young age than white Americans.

  • African Americans in their 20s, 30s, and 40s are more likely to live with or die from conditions that typically occur at older ages in whites, including heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
  • African Americans ages 35-64 are 50 percent more likely to have high blood pressure as whites.
  • African Americans ages 18 to 49 years are 2 times as likely to die from heart disease as whites.
  • Social and economic conditions, such as poverty, contribute to the gap in health differences between African Americans and whites.

Public health agencies and community organizations should work across sectors, including education, business, transportation, and housing, to create social and economic conditions that promote health at early ages. Consumers can prevent disease and early death by eating healthy, maintaining a healthy weight, taking medication as prescribed, and getting screened for diseases.

Contact Information

CDC Media Relations
(404) 639-3286



English [PDF 2.0 MB]
Spanish [PDF 1.6MB]


Leandris Liburd, PhD, MPH, MA


Leandris Liburd, PhD, MPH, MA

“We have seen some remarkable improvements in death rates for the African American population; however, we still have a long way to go. Early health interventions can lead to longer, healthier lives. Diagnosing and treating these diseases in the early stages is an important step in saving lives.”

Leandris Liburd, Ph.D., M.P.H., M.A. – Director, Office of Minority Health and Health Equity, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Related Links


  • Vital Signs – African American Health: Creating Equal Opportunities for Health – English | Spanish
  • Vital Signs – African American Health: Creating Equal Opportunities for Health – [PSA – 0:60 seconds]