Statewide Campaign Seeks to Combat Obesity and Chronic Disease Through Healthier Community Environments

An information campaign being launched in April will seek to mobilize North Carolinians to get more involved by seeing the world around them in a new way in order to create environments for healthier communities. Funded by $3 million from the CDC through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009, the statewide Healthy Environments Initiative will address how communities are designed as a way to encourage people to be more active, enabling healthier lifestyle activities. The Division of Public Health (DPH) is partnering with eleven municipalities across the state, as well as the NC Departments of Transportation, Commerce and Environment and Natural Resources to create a picture of the policies and realities that have helped form the current state of health.

“We need to make the healthy choice the easy choice,” State Health Director Jeffrey Engel, MD, said. “By creating communities where people can be more physicially active wherever they are, we will reduce the burden of obesity and chronic disease that is so costly to our state.”

According to the CDC, rates of leisure-time physical activity are as low as 16 percent in Orange County and as high as 37 percent in Robeson County, both of which are pilot communities in the Initiative. Other pilot communities include Gastonia, Sparta, Eden, Wilmington, Ahoskie, Waxhaw, Midland, Banner Elk and Mt. Gilead. You will find 2004-2008 CDC estimates for county-by-county leisure-time physical activities at


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