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Abstract

Health inequalities, which have been well documented for decades, have recently become policy targets in the United States. This report summarizes current patterns and trends in health inequalities, commitments to reduce health inequalities, and progress made to eliminate health inequalities. Time trend data indicate improvements in health status and major risk factors but increases in morbidity, with black and lower-education individuals experiencing a disproportionate burden of disease. A common policy response has been priority setting in the form of national objectives or goals to address health inequalities. More research and better methods are needed to precisely measure relationships between stated policy goals and observed trends in health inequalities. Despite these challenges, the United States has made commitments to advancing research and policy to eliminate health inequalities. There remain considerable opportunities for local public health systems and practioners to develop innovative solutions to address the problem of health inequalities, particularly related to action steps, and for researchers to address knowledge gaps in the scientific literature related to the evaluation and measurement of progress aimed at addressing health inequalities.