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By
Mike.Voorheis@StarNewsOnline.com

In many cases, New Hanover County is a model of health. In other cases, there's beer … or wine. 

New Hanover County's excessive drinking rate staggers at around 18 percent. That's 5 percentage points higher than the state average and could be attributed to the county's beach lifestyle.

Generally, New Hanover County is regarded as a pretty healthy place to live. The county falls below North Carolina averages for smoking, obesity and teen pregnancy. It ranks among the top 10 percent nationally with a low rate of physical inactivity. There's practically a dentist in every cul-de-sac. Those are all positive factors that help New Hanover consistently rank in the top 10 counties in North Carolina when the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation releases its annual county health rankings.

But one number that continues to obnoxiously bring attention to itself is the percentage of people who are classified as either binge drinkers or heavy drinkers. Binge drinking is defined as consuming more than four (for women) or five (for men) alcoholic beverages on a single occasion in the past 30 days. Heavy drinking involves drinking more than one (for women) or two (for men) drinks per day on average.

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