There wasn’t a lot of good news to be found for Robeson County in a recent report that looked at the overall health of North Carolina residents, doing so county by county.
Robeson ranked 97th overall, meaning we only fared better than three of the state’s 100 counties.
According to the report, which was compiled by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute using data from more than 20 national sources, Robesonians are more likely to be obese, smoke cigarettes and spend their time sitting on the couch and watching their big-screen TV than are our residents across the state. So it should be no surprise that, according to the report, Robesonians are dying much younger than other North Carolinians.
But of all the distressing news in the report, what we found most disturbing is that 40 percent of children in Robeson County are considered obese. It’s one thing when adults make bad decisions regarding their own health, but when they sit idly by and watch their children stuff themselves with potato chips and Snickers bars, then they are putting their children on a troubled path, one that gets harder and harder to escape with each passing day. There are many responsibilities that comes with being a parent, and one is trying to trying to instill in a child healthy habits, such as eating well and getting regular exercise.
The county’s ranking has remained steady over the last four years — Robeson was ranked 97th in 2013, 99th in 2012 and 98th in 2011 — and there is no reason to expect that it will change significantly in the foreseeable future. For that to happen, large numbers of Robesonians would have to end their unhealthy habits in favor of new ones, and even if that were done today, it would take a long while for a ship this size to change course.
That doesn’t excuse any of us from trying to be a part of the solution and not the problem. There is plenty of information out there, but leading a healthier life isn’t a Rubik’s cube: It requires that we don’t engage in unhealthy habits, such as smoking at all, drinking to excess, abusing drugs or eating ourselves into obesity, while mixing in a moderate amount of exercise a few days a week.
The benefits are too many to itemize, but the biggest prize is an enhanced quality of life.
There is no lack of information on how to make lifestyle changes to achieve a healthier and more rewarding life; this newspaper even publishes a column on the health page each Sunday with practical and easy advice to follow.
The next move is yours.