Durham 8th healthiest in N.C.

Dec. 12, 2012 @ 04:17 PM

Here’s the good news: Durham is the eighth healthiest county in North Carolina.
Here’s the bad news: North Carolina is only the 33rd healthiest state in the nation.
The listings are from the just-released America’s Health Rankings, a national comparison of statistical evidence by the United Health Foundation that gauges the health of communities nationwide.
“Eighth in a state ranked 33rd frankly is not so good,” said Gayle Harris, the Durham County health director. “But at least we did a little bit better than last year.”
Last year, North Carolina ranked 35th compared to other states. And Durham was ninth in the state.
“That means, even though we’re making some progress, there’s still a lot of work to be done,” said Harris. “As a state, we’re out of the bottom third, but only by a little. The state needs to be better and so does the county.”
The rankings look at health outcomes — such as premature death rates — and health factors, such as smoking and availability of medical care, along with social and economic factors.
According to the data, Wake is the healthiest county in the state, with Orange second. The least healthy county in North Carolina is Columbus.
Durham had its best results — second in the state — in the category of clinical care — which includes, among other measures, the number of primary care physicians per capita.
It did much less well, however, in the category of physical environment, having too many fast-food restaurants per capita and ranking 62nd out of the state’s 100 counties.
“We still have a real problem with food availability,” Harris said. “Healthy food options are not readily available in some of our communities. Some neighborhoods don’t have sidewalks where people can walk and the combination means that obesity is a real problem.”
It’s a problem, she said, that “cuts across all races and ethnicities, but people of color are disproportionally impacted by it. We need to address this as a community, and we’re beginning to — but we have to do more.”