Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Font Size

America's Health: Our Top Doctor's 2006 Report Card

Acting U.S. Surgeon General Kenneth Moritsugu weighs in on our health -- and his own.
WebMD Magazine - Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

In your view, what is the No. 1 health crisis in America today?

Health literacy. We have a lot of science and a lot of information, and we can talk all about prevention and medications, but if people don't understand what health pros are trying to do, all is for naught. And it's not just the people we serve, but also on the part of health professionals.

Health professionals often talk "doctorese." Sometimes people don't fully understand what we are trying to advise them to do. I don't want to demonize doctors. We are all trying to do the right thing. What we need to remember is communication is not a one-way street. We may think we have made a point, but have not. And we may think patients have understood, but they don't. Communication is not one-size-fits-all. It is modified and modulated by culture, gender, language -- all these things are important as we communicate. The Institute of Medicine reports that low health literacy adds $50 billion to health care costs. Ninety million Americans can't adequately understand basic health information. Can you imagine what we could do if we could get even half of these Americans to understand health better?

Are Americans getting smarter about smoking?

We are. In 1964, when the first Surgeon General report on smoking came out, the majority of American men and women smoked. Most don't now. We are getting smarter. When the report came out a few years ago, we are very heartened to learn that people are understanding [the risk] and taking it to heart. We were able to communicate the message in such a way that people hear it, understand it, and put it into action. What about teens? The number of teens taking up smoking continues to go down compared to the late '90s. It's the lowest ever since 1991. The not-so-good news is that the rate of decline is beginning to stall. We can't be complacent. We need to communicate to teens in ways they can hear the message, embrace it, and put it into action. And we need to appreciate that our young adults are educated people who can learn to make the right choices for themselves.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Hot Topics

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

disciplining a boy
Types, symptoms, causes.
Remember your finger
Are You Getting More Forgetful?
fruit drinks
Eat these to think better.
No gym workout
Moves to help control blood sugar.
acupuncture needle on shoulder
10 tips to look and feel good.
Close up of eye
12 reasons you're distracted.
birth control pills
Which kind is right for you?
embarrassed woman
Do you feel guilty after eating?
Epinephrine Injection using Auto-Injector Syringe
Life-threatening triggers.
woman biting a big ice cube
Habits that wreck your teeth.
pacemaker next to xray
Treatment options.
caregiver with parent
10 tips for daily life.

Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

It's nothing to sneeze at.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.