Building health into the structure of everyday life.

It's time to Build Health
into everyday life.


We have a problem.

Modern life is great at making us happy - in the short term.
In the long term, it's killing us. By design. 

From cheap calories to free Facebook, from second cars to second refrigerators, our environment is engineered for convenience, passiveness, and gratification.

The result: An epidemic of obesity & diabetes, depression & chronic pain.

And things are getting worse. 

"Lifestyle diseases" were first identified 75 years ago, but we've made poor progress at preventing them. Instead, we create communities and entertainment that make us lax and idle, and detach us from friends and family. 


Modern life has made 1/3 of Americans obese, leading to record rates of diabetes and heart disease.


Soulless subdivisions and endless strip malls are dragging out commutes and disconnecting our communities.


It's not just TV. Americans spend more time in front of screens – and depression and isolation soar as a result.

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What we think works isn't working.

The U.S. spends trillions on hospitals, doctors, and drugs to treat disease...and scant little on helping people avoid it in the first place.

What do we do? We deploy fear and shame and guilt to little effect. We hope people will make changes they don't want to make. And we beg them to do things that are harder, more expensive, and less fun.

Are we really surprised this doesn't work?

How big can we think?



It's time to wake up.

It's time to think big.


It's time to tap technology and innovation to make life healthy by default.

This is not wearables and coaching apps.

This is re-engineering our COMMUNITIES – food, shelter, transportation, entertainment – so that health is built into the structure of our daily lives.

Below, some of our favorite examples.



Forget McDonalds - how do we counter Pizza Hut's Hot Dog Bites Pizza? The answer is to employ logistics, biotechnology, and entrepreneurs to make good food – food that's good for us – cheaper, easier, and better tasting than what's on the strip.


La cocina

Apeel Sciences


Cars are a 19th century technology. Imagine transportation networks that let people move smarter. Imagine carpools that let us get to work faster. Imagine multi-use roads that make bikes and scooters the safer and faster choice. Imagine the future.

ford Go bikes




Many American cities are on the upswing, but as urban housing gets more expensive, our aging suburbs remain isolated, lacking the communal spaces that forge social ties. We all deserve a place to meet our neighbors, walk our dogs, and garden together.





When Pokemon Go hit our phones in 2015, it broke all the rules: Move, don't sit. Make connections, don't stay at home. It sparked a new wave of video games, and inspired others to make fun something to get out and do, not something to sit back and watch.




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Our inspiration

Society has risen to great health challenges before. Sanitation, food safety, fluoridation, tobacco control, these were daunting, even impossible tasks ... that all happened.

This is a big idea, but it's not just ours. Many bold thinkers and policy leaders are already making it happen. And we need a wave of entrepreneurs and innovators to rise to the moment and join us.


We can find our way. Here are our guidebooks.

steve downs - building health into the os

Steve's 3-part manifesto states the case for making health the default in daily life, and why tech must be part of the solution.

karen desalvo: public health 3.0

Public health can do big things, and in this report Dr. Desalvo calls for a new approach to solving our biggest problems. 

Robert Lustig: Hacking of the American mind

A leader in nutrition science and neuroscience argues that our brains are being hijacked by our worst impulses – for profit.

Daniel lieberman: mismatch diseases

Lieberman's masterpiece, The Story of the Human Body, explains how the bodies we have don't suit the world we've built.

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Join Us

Join the movement to build health.

Together, we can redesign our culture and communities to put health first.
Sign up here, get our newsletter, and be part of the change.

Building H is a project conceived by Thomas Goetz, a journalist and entrepreneur, and Steve Downs, the chief technology and strategy officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. You can contact us here.

What's Next

April 16, 2019

we’re putting on a learning session at the TED conference - challenging the ted community, is your product/company creating health? if not, how might it?