A first of its kind report that documents inequities across race, sex and income levels with respect to how likely a person is to be sick or healthy has been released by US authorities.
Access to health care, exposure to environmental hazards, and behavioral risk factors varied widely according to ethnicity, gender and social class, said the report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"I don't think we saw any surprises necessarily," said Leandris Liburd, director of the CDC office of minority health and health equity.
"But what the report does provide that we haven't seen before is a really detailed analysis of the 22 topic areas," she said, adding that it showcased the "disproportionate burden" faced by certain groups when it comes to major health issues.
"For me, they are all concerning."
For instance, African American men and women were much more likely than whites to die from heart disease or stroke.
Hispanic teenagers had a five times higher teen pregnancy rate than Asians, and households near the poverty level were more likely to have smokers than homes where the incomes were higher.
American Indians and Alaskan natives had the highest death rate in car crashes (29 deaths per thousand).
Across the board, men were four times as likely as women to commit suicide.
Deaths due to drug use were highest among non-Hispanic whites and lowest among Asians and Pacific Islanders.
High blood pressure was most frequent among blacks (42 percent) versus 29 percent in whites.
And the rate of preventable hospitalization rose as incomes fell.
Eliminating these disparities could save $6.7 billion per year, the CDC said.
"Better information about the health status of different groups is essential to improve health," said CDC chief Thomas Frieden.
"This first of its kind analysis and reporting of recent trends is designed to spur action and accountability at the federal, tribal, state and local levels to achieve health equity in this country."