NC ranked 33rd among states for health ranking

December 12, 2012 at 10:52 am

The United Health Foundation has released “America’s Health Rankings” which ranks the states on a variety of health indicators. This year, North Carolina ranks 33rd overall. The strengths of the state include:

  • low prevalence of binge drinking
  • low incidence of infectious disease
  • few poor mental & physical health days per month

The biggest challenges include:

  • low per capita public health funding
  • high prevalence of diabetes
  • high infant mortality rate & high prevalence of low birthweight

The report also  points to health disparities, as the obesity rate is significantly higher for African Americans (42.9 percent) than whites (26.5 percent) and Hispanics (24.8 percent).  Disparities also exist across geographies with some counties ranking higher on health, such as Orange and Wake Counties, while others, such as Robeson and Columbus Counties, ranking at the bottom.

The News and Observer reported on a presentation made by Pam Silberman, president and CEO of the NC Institute of Medicine, to the state legislature’s Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services. In her report, she highlighted the importance of taking a multipronged approach to improving health in North Carolina, similar to the effort made to reduce  teenage smoking:

A multipronged approach that included prohibitions on smoking on school grounds, state and federal cigarette tax increases, and anti-smoking television ads aimed at teenagers all contributed to the decline, she said. “What works is addressing problems at multiple levels,” Silberman said.

This is a critical point. Addressing health issues in our state will require a cross-sector approach that recognizes the interdependence of health, the economy, poverty, education, and a range of other issues. As the N&O states, “there’s a connection between residents’ health and unemployment rates, the percentage of people with health insurance, and child poverty…” Focusing on one issue without attention to the others will not lead to a systemic solution. As we’ve seen with most of the challenges faced by communities across the state and the nation, there are no “silver bullet” solutions. For the sake of our long-term health, resilience, and economic security we need integrative approaches and action steps to solve our biggest challenges.

Entry filed under: Economic Development, Economy, Healthy Foods, Jobs & Employment. Tags: , , , , .

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