The CDC defines health disparities as "preventable differences in the burden of disease, injury, violence or opportunities to achieve optimal health that are experienced by populations that have been disadvantaged by their social or economic status, geographic location and environment".

Across the country, people in some racial and ethnic minority groups experience higher rates of poor health and disease for a range of health conditions, including diabetes, hypertension, obesity, asthma, heart disease, cancer and preterm birth, when compared to their White counterparts. For example, the average life expectancy among Black or African American people in the United States is four years lower than that of White people. These disparities sometimes persist even when accounting for other demographic and socioeconomic factors, such as age or income.

Communities can prevent health disparities when community- and faith-based organizations, employers, health care systems and providers, public health agencies and policymakers work together to develop policies, programs and systems based on a health equity framework and community needs.

Social Determinants of Health or Social Drivers of Health (SDOH) are the conditions in the places where people live, learn, work, play and worship that affect a wide range of health risks and outcomes. Long-standing inequities in six key areas of SDOH are interrelated and influence a wide range of health and quality-of-life risks and outcomes. Examining these layered health and social inequities can help us better understand how to promote health equity and improve health outcomes.