Communities are defined in part by where we live—cities, suburbs, towns or rural areas.

Within those areas, neighborhoods can define our communities, as can the traits people have in common—like ethnic origins, socio-economic status, education, languages, sexual orientation and more. 

Both types of communities can have a big impact on our health, and in many cases result in health disparities.

In “The Unequal Distribution of Health in the Twin Cities” research report (2010), for example, results were striking:

  • An eight-year difference in average life expectancy exists between residents living in our region’s highest income areas and residents living in our region’s lowest income areas. 
  • Overall, poorer health outcomes were tied to both poverty and lower levels of education. 
  • Average life expectancy varied widely by race, from 83 years for Asians to 61.5 years for American Indians. 

Recognizing that economic and social factors are strongly connected to health, the Center for Prevention addresses systemic issues that contribute to health inequities. We prioritize work in communities where inequities are greatest—such as those that have been targeted by the tobacco industry, have less access to healthy foods and safe places to be physically active, and have experienced greater rates of preventable disease.

We aim to reduce health disparities related to tobacco, healthy eating and active living by working with people in those communities to identify both needs and solutions. Using culturally tailored approaches, our work helps build a more inclusive health movement that addresses the full diversity of our state.

Related Initiatives


  • Making Healthy Choices Possible for All Minnesotans

    The Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota tackles the leading causes of preventable disease -- tobacco use, physical inactivity and unhealthy eating -- to increase health equity, transform communities and create a healthier state.