How do area counties match up with rest of North Carolina in annual health rankings?

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NEW HANOVER COUNTY – A new survey released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation shows New Hanover County moved up three spots from the year prior. It’s now at No. 11 among North Carolina’s 100 counties in the group’s annual county health rankings.

Published online at www.countyhealthrankings.org, the rankings help counties understand what influences how healthy residents are and how long they will live. Factors used to build a portfolio for the health of each county is based on a variety  of factors such as quality of life, high school graduation rates, access to healthy foods, rates of smoking, obesity, and teen births.

The annual county healthy rankings list New Hanover County 11th in the state.
The annual county healthy rankings list New Hanover County 11th in the state.

Among the 220,358 people in New Hanover County, 17 percent of the population is smokers, while twenty percent excessively drink, according to the report. After being listed as 14th healthiest county in 2016, clinical care (fourth) and physical environment (seventh) helped improve the ranking.

Twenty-two percent of children in the county were listed as living in poverty, which is above the national average. Eighty-two percent of ninth-grade students graduate high school in four years, which factors the high school graduate rate.

“As a healthcare and economic leader in our community, we want New Hanover County to be highly ranked as a healthy place to live,” said Dr. Joseph Pino, NHRMC Vice President of Graduate Medical Education and Executive Director of South East Area Health Education Center. “As the study points out, our county has great access to many key health factors such as exercise opportunities, preventative medical care and a safe environment.

“But, we have challenges as well, such as high income inequality, obesity and smoking rates. This is why it is important to continue working with local partners to improve the overall well being of our residents and lead our community to outstanding health.”

New Hanover Regional Medical Center Dr. Joseph Pino shared thoughts on the rankings. Photo courtesy- NHRMC.
New Hanover Regional Medical Center Dr. Joseph Pino shared thoughts on the rankings. (Photo courtesy of New Hanover Regional Medical Center)

Click here for county demographics and health factors contributing to the report. Pender County was ranked at No. 20, while Brunswick County came in at No. 44.

The healthiest North Carolina County in 2017 rankings was Wake County (Raleigh area), while nearby Robeson County (Lumberton area) was listed as least healthy.

The North Carolina State Health Gaps Report from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation also took a look at the driving forces in health differences across the state and offered ides to help close those gaps. Read the full report here.