Gaston County: healthy and ahead of its peers

Public health is something every community strives for.  In our region, Gaston County is no exception.  Gaston County has recently experienced a reduction in the percent of adults who are obese by raising awareness of the importance of prevention and keeping individuals healthy.  The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BFRSS) survey from the North Carolina State Center for Health Statistics recently released survey based data that has illustrated positive growth for Gaston County in the areas of increasing physical activity and reducing obesity. 

In 2010 the percent of individuals reporting physical activity in the past month in Gaston County was 68.5%, greater than Catawba (68.0%) and Davidson counties (63.8%).  With the majority of Gaston County residents reporting they are physically active, additional health improvements are apparent throughout the community.

One example of such health improvements is the decline in the percent of adults reported to be obese.  In 2010, Gaston County had 24.8% of adults reported obese, a decline from 2007 (30.2%).  When compared to its peer counties, Gaston County experienced a lower percent of adults who reported they were obese in 2010 than Cabarrus (30.2%), Davidson (25.2%) and Iredell (29.3%) counties.  In 2010, the percent of residents in Gaston County reported to be at their recommended weight was 33.5%, the second highest compared to peer counties that included Cabarrus (31.5%), Catawba (30.4%) and Davidson (31.3%) counties.

Because Gaston focuses on prevention, it is also ahead of its peers in the fight against childhood obesity.  The North Carolina Nutrition and Physical Activity Surveillance System (PASS) revealed that in 2009, 13.2% of Gaston County children were obese, the lowest percentage compared to peer counties including Cabarrus (22.5%), Catawba (20.4%), Davidson (14.7%) and Iredell (17.5%).  Gaston County has several healthcare systems and agencies focused on prevention and services.  The data reflects county-wide efforts that are shown to be working.  Gaston Family Health Services is one example of a group focused on balancing prevention services with specific services.

In keeping with prevention, exercising and eating right go hand in hand.  Data from the 2011 US Census American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates showed that 81.7% of Gaston County residents had health care coverage which is a slight increase (0.9%) from 2010. While the percent of Gaston County residents who had health insurance coverage is less than some peer counties including Davidson (84.4%) and Iredell (85.7%), the positive trend from 2010 to 2011 illustrates an attempt by Gaston County to further ensure the physical well-being of its residents.