UNNATURAL CAUSES is inequality making us sick? HEALTH EQUITY research topics and resources to learn more
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Recognition, Quotes, and Selected Articles

UNNATURAL CAUSES and the issues it presents have received considerable attention since its broadcast in spring 2008. Below are some excerpts and highlights, including some op-ed pieces penned by the filmmakers.

2009 Radio / TV / Film Award
National Academy of Sciences & Institute of Medicine
2009 Henry Hampton Award
Council on Foundations
2008 Leadership in Journalism Award
Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust / National Minority Quality Forum
2009 Media Award
New Mexico and Illinois Public Health Associations
2009 Radio & Television Journalism Award
National Institute for Health Care Management Foundation
2009 Hillman Prize - Runner Up
The Sidney Hillman Foundation
Series Executive Producer Larry Adelman accepts the duPont-Columbia Award from CBS's Katie Couric, January 2009

Press Quotes

"Riveting... Explores why your bank account, race and zip code are more powerful predictors of healthiness than your medical coverage, habits and genes."
  - USA Today

"Instructive, informative, depressing and occasionally infuriating."
- New York Daily News

"Provides dramatic evidence that we need new prescriptions. Unless we make provisions for all Americans to lead healthier lives, the chronic disease epidemic will continue to grow, as will the strains on our already over-burdened health care system.... An invaluable and long-awaited addition."
  - Dr. David Satcher, former U.S. Surgeon General

 "Inequality is killing us…Behavior, diet and environment aren't always part of the answer. The stress of living in a win-or-lose society is....That health message may be a hard sell, but I hope people will at least listen. So eat your spinach at dinner — and then tune in to the series."
  - Seattle Times

"This is really disturbing stuff.... Presents a lot of startling information, and hopefully it will get a lot of people asking themselves some serious questions."
– Matt Lauer, The Today Show

"The filmmakers offer plenty of background…but the film’s power comes not from experts or statistics but stories of real people.... They powerfully reinforce the fact that where you live can predict not just how well you live but also how long. More than 120 organizations have begun to use this film as a teaching curriculum.  Once you check out the series, you’ll see why."
- Newsweek

"Unless the nation simultaneously grapples with what are the underlying causes of ill-health in this society, it will never get health care costs under control…. The presidential candidates and everyone running for Congress this year should watch UNNATURAL CAUSES."
- The Huffington Post

"UNNATURAL CAUSES tears back the veil to show the socio-economic and racial inequities in health as well as the public policies that underpin them. Should be required viewing."
- Andy Stern, President, SEIU 

"A quietly withering attack on...the cult of the individual that fractures any sense of community, the fetishistic worship of the so-called free market that increases the distance between the poor and the tax-averse rich.... Makes clear that only political will can provide a remedy."
- Los Angeles Times

"This amazing documentary notes [that] 'health is more than health care,' 'social policies are health policies,' and Americans can and must demand new approaches. And so, UNNATURAL CAUSES isn't just a documentary, it's a tool in a public engagement campaign."
- Editorial, Louisville Courier Journal

"A must see documentary. Powerful and distressing. At the same time, it is illuminating and inspiring. There is something about the production that grabs viewers by the collar, takes them on a visceral health disparities journey told through the lives of real people, and refuses to let them down until they agree to change the way they practice."
- Family Medicine Journal

"UNNATURAL CAUSES is an eye-opening series everyone should watch and discuss. It reveals the links between living conditions, public policy, and health [and is] a powerful and long-awaited resource for all of us working toward health equity."
- Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino

"Ranks among the best of public broadcasting for tackling an intellectually tough but vital issue in a clear, expository and engaging fashion."
- In These Times

"Dramatically and powerfully illustrates the extent and cost of health inequities…. The series offers hope and shows that as a society we can make different policy choices that lead to better health for all members of our communities."
Minnesota Post

"Every once in a while a television series comes along that can really make a difference in how the public perceives a critical issue. UNNATURAL CAUSES is one of those shows."
– Dr. Georges Benjamin, Executive Director, American Public Health Association

"An extraordinary series that can be an invaluable tool for broadening and reframing the discussion about health beyond health care and building support for actions and policies that promote health equity."
– Sarah Olson, Health Promotion Practice

featured articles

"S.F. filmmaker honored for wider lens on health," San Francisco Chronicle, January 17, 2009
Chronicle staff writer Victoria Colliver sits down with the Larry Adelman, series executive producer, to talk about health inequity and opportunities for reform. This interview was conducted shortly before the production team accepted the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award for excellence in broadcast journalism.

"Toppling the 'Big Three'-Medical Care, Behavior and Genes," Nieman Reports, March 2009
Madeline Drexler's article, published in the quarterly magazine of Harvard's Nieman School of Journalism, about the under-reported importance of the social determinants of health equity and production of the UNNATURAL CAUSES series.

"Inequality Kills," In These Times, April 16, 2008
Senior editor David Moberg reviews the series, spotlighting key issues and saying that the series "ranks among the best of public broadcasting for tackling an intellectually tough but vital issue in a clear, expository and engaging fashion."

"Documentary: Racism Harms Your Health," Tell Me More (NPR), April 16, 2008
Radio host Michel Martin sits down with series creator/executive producer Larry Adelman and co-executive producer Llew Smith to ask why people of color suffer disproportionately from health problems.

"Health Disparities," Forum with Michael Krasny, March 26, 2008
This hour-long radio program features Larry Adelman and several key advisors to the series in discussion about how socioeconomic circumstances affect life expectancy and other health outcomes.

"Is Inequality Making Us Sick?" by Larry Adelman, San Francisco Bay Guardian, February 2009
In this guest column, Larry Adelman explains how many factors affecting health have little to do with individual behaviors, and argues that solutions to our country's current health problems lie not with new drugs or technologies, but our political priorities.

Larry Adelman and Dr. Sheldon Cohen appear on The Today Show with Matt Lauer, NBC, April 2008

More producer op eds »