May 8, 2012
With the release of its 2012 North Carolina Prevention Report Card today, NC Prevention Partners highlighted some of the biggest successes and greatest challenges that North Carolina faces as a state in preventing illness caused by tobacco, obesity, poor nutrition and lack of physical activity. Since 1998, NCPP has released the Prevention Report Card to raise awareness among NC leaders of the human and economic costs of poor health. This year's report card, which was produced in partnership with NC Healthy Schools, the North Carolina Alliance for Healthy Communities and the North Carolina Alliance for Health, lays out new and tougher state and national goals for 2020 set by public health experts. It is the first in a series of Report Cards that will be created every two years to track NC's progress toward these goals.
North Carolina's grades reflect the tremendous progress made during the last decade to protect residents from harmful secondhand smoke and support individuals to quit tobacco use. The state's grade in tobacco has improved dramatically to a B, though tobacco still remains the number one cause of preventable death in North Carolina. If tobacco prevention and cessation programs do not continue to receive funding, the state risks considerable setbacks to the positive changes it has already made.
"North Carolina cannot afford to lose any of our ground on health and prevention," said Meg Molloy, President and CEO of NC Prevention Partners. "It is too costly to do nothing, and the wisest health investment we can make is in proven prevention work."
With the introduction of new, tougher health goals for 2020, North Carolina's nutrition and obesity grades plummeted to Fs. Only 10.8% of adults in North Carolina eat the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables each day, and the effect of a poor diet is reflected in North Carolina's adult obesity statistics - a whopping 66% of NC adults are overweight or obese. Alarmingly, 30% of children ages 6-11 are also overweight or obese.
"This report card shows that where resources were invested in comprehensive prevention, the grades have improved," said Paula Hudson Hildebrand, Chief Health and Community Relations Officer of the NC Department of Public Instruction. "We need to maintain our progress on tobacco and really focus on obesity issues. All North Carolinians benefit with better health as we improve our prevention grades."
The state received a D in physical activity, demonstrating that North Carolinians are in considerable need of more exercise time and less screen time. Currently, only 46.4% of adults are getting the recommended amount of physical activity, and progress in this area would almost certainly have an effect on North Carolina's obesity rates in the future.
When considered together, North Carolina's 2012 grades in tobacco, obesity, nutrition and physical activity draw attention to the work that needs to be done in preventing tobacco- and obesity-related illness if the state is to reach the national goals by 2020. By using evidence-based strategies that work, NC Prevention Partners seeks to address these challenges in order to overhaul North Carolina's Prevention Report Card grades in just nine short years.
"Health is an economic issue," states Molloy. "Tobacco use and obesity are driving up the cost of doing business in NC and driving jobs to healthier states. The Report Card identifies clear prevention solutions that individuals, parents, health care providers, employers, schools, and policymakers can turn to in order to improve the health and economy of North Carolina."
To read the 2012 North Carolina Prevention Report Card, visit www.ncpreventionpartners.org.