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New Hanover County rates higher than state on health

READ MORE: New Hanover County rates higher than state on health
WILMINGTON -- North Carolina Prevention Partners is an organization that grades the states efforts to reduce preventable disease. Our state was given a C in tobacco use and D's in both nutrition and physical activity. So how do we measure up in the Cape Fear region? North Carolina received two D's and a C. New Hanover County did slightly better. New Hanover County Health Department Director Scott Harrelson said, "I wouldn't say we have a B. We still have room for improvement." Harrelson says our area has better rates in several areas compared with the state. "One of the biggest differences we saw was overweight children, in North Carolina it's 25.2 percent, about a fourth of the population in New Hanover County it's about 17 percent," Harrelson said. Harrelson says the better numbers are due to the many opportunities people have get active in the area. "If you look at the beach, the parks, the adult programs here you've got everything from flag football and basketball and you've got various gyms." He also points out there are fewer smokers, and more smoke-free restaurants and other businesses in the Cape Fear region. Even with all the healthy options, residents say there are ways to improve. Wilmington resident Ally Harper said, "I think restaurants can help a lot by changing their menu up and having it smoke-free. And if you want to smoke then go outside." Harrelson says locally there are improvements in the works to promote a healthy lifestyle. Wilmington Walks and Cape Fear Healthy Carolinians are working on a brochure highlighting all the walking and biking trails in the community. The city and the county are working toward more green spaces, the parks and things in that nature. But the responsibility doesn't simply fall on the county -- it's also up to the individual. "I believe parents teaching and educating their children about nutrition, physical activity and the horror stories about smoking and what it can do to you," Harrelson said. Harrelson says businesses can help promote healthy living by offering wellness programs. Workers would get a fitness assessment, make a health goal, then be given incentives at work -- like a day off -- for reaching their health goal.

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