Report: North Carolina’s Overall Health Continues to Improve Despite Challenges

Rising obesity rates and continued tobacco use remain two of North Carolina’s most significant health challenges, according to the latest issue of America’s Health Rankings. North Carolina is now ranked 32nd in the nation for overall health, up from 35th last year and from 37th in 2008.

“While any improvement is encouraging, we still have a long way to go to improve the health of all North Carolinians,” Governor Beverly Perdue said.  “Now is not the time to cut critical funding to health care and prevention among the most vulnerable members of our communities.”

The report notes that North Carolina’s rising obesity rates are mirrored in increased diabetes rates, with an estimated 711,000 adults with diabetes in the state. The NC Division of Public Health is working in numerous communities to prevent obesity and type 2 diabetes by promoting healthy eating and physical activity.

The state was recognized for progress in reducing smoking rates among adults over the past decade; however, the report also points out more than 1.4 million adults still smoke in the state. North Carolina has 100 percent tobacco-free campus policies in all public schools, all hospitals, all prisons and half of its community colleges. A 2010 state survey found that 81 of 100 county governments and more than 200 municipal governments reported they had implemented 100 percent smoke free or tobacco free buildings.

“The passage of smoke-free bars and restaurants law was a tremendous milestone for public health in North Carolina,” State Health Director Jeffrey Engel, MD, said. “Not only has it improved the health of restaurant workers by not exposing them to secondhand smoke, but also is expected to save an estimated $4.7 million per year in avoidable medical care costs for hospitality workers.”


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