I Ate Too Much! North Carolina’s Obesity Epidemic

Overeat on sweetsI’ve officially banned the scale from my life for the next two weeks. I know I won’t like the number. I ate way too much of all the wrong things in my mission to properly celebrate the holidays. I know I’m not alone — and because misery loves company, I find comfort in seeing hundreds of others wear stretchy leggings and comfy sweater dresses until we can drop that extra five pounds.

But while we all suffer from the problem of too much food available, there are communities in North Carolina that operate year-round on a food deficit. According to the Support Center, about one in every five North Carolinians are “food insecure” and do not have access to enough food. Check out this map; while food insecurity is an issue statewide, there appears to be higher concentrations of food insecurity in the eastern part of the state.

Food insecurity

Beyond that, there is the problem of “food deserts.” This term refers to communities that don’t have healthy food retailers that offer fresh fruits and vegetables. When you can’t find healthy food at your local food store, it’s impossible to make healthy choices for yourself and your family. I’ve sometimes traveled through food deserts on road trips and, in spite of my best efforts, I always arrive home craving the fresh fruits and veggies that I couldn’t find on my trip.

Having access to healthy food is not a luxury. It’s a necessity. When we don’t have access to healthy food, we pay the price with our health. North Carolina is the 18th most obese state in the U.S. with almost 30% of our population classified as obese. It’s estimated by HealthAmericans.org that just reducing the state’s average Body Mass Index (BMI) by 5% would save our state $21 billion in health care costs by 2030.

So while we all plan our individual attacks on our waistlines, let’s work together to increase the health of our state. I’m happier when I’m healthier. I’m nicer to people. I feel more productive, and I’m quite sure I am. Imagine if we all had the ability to feel that way — what could we accomplish as a state?




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