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North Carolina is not yet the “fattest” state, but obesity continues to be – pardon the pun – an enormous and growing health problem. These new data from the Centers for Disease Control show that our state obesity rate now stands at a disheatening 29.1%.

While not as bad as the situation in the nation’s worst state (Surprise! It’s Mississippi at 34.9%), this number (which comes from 2011) does put us in the bottom third. It also marks an increase since 2010 — a year in which the CDC reported on a stunning overall growth in obesity over the last two decades — both here and around the country.

Unfortunately, as in so many other areas in which there is a crying need for intentional public solutions, the North Carolina General Assembly is headed backwards. During the recently adjourned legislative session, lawmakers eliminated funding for the state Health and Wellness Trust Fund (for which obesity prevention was a top priority) and instead replaced it with a one-time, one-year state appropriation.

Thirteen years after the 1998 State Tobacco Settlement, North Carolina ranks just 21st in the nation in supporting programs to prevent young people from smoking and helping adult smokers quit.

The report released Wednesday by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the American Heart Association, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and several other public health organizations notes that North Carolina took a big step backward this year by abolishing the Health and Wellness Trust Fund.

The HWTF previously received 25 percent of the state’s tobacco settlement funds and provided dedicated funding for the state’s tobacco prevention and cessation program.

The report’s other key findings for North Carolina include: Read More