Adult obesity levels are growing in Walworth and surrounding counties


Obesity is on the rise in South Dakota, especially in the  counties of  Walworth, Dewey and Corson, which are low in the rankings that reflect the overall health of the population.

30 percent of South Dakota’s adult population is obese. The adult populations of the surrounding counties are more than 13 percent higher.

According to the County Health Rankings website, Walworth county is ranked 42 on the chart. The county has a population of 5,459, and 32 percent is documented as obese, two percent higher than the state average. The physical inactivity rate for Walworth is 17 percent higher than the average for South Dakota.

Dewey County ranked 54 in the health charts. With a population of 5,538, almost half is considered obese. The same results are seen in Corson County along with the physical inactivity rate that shows 34 percent of the population does not exercise or have a physically active lifestyle.

Obesity in a population is measured by individuals’ Body Mass Index or BMI, a measurement of the relative percentages of fat and muscle mass in the human body, in which mass in kilograms is divided by height in meters squared and the result used as an index of obesity. A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered a normal or healthy body weight, 25 to 29.9 is overweight, anything over 30 is obese and over 40 is morbidly obese.

–Kelsey Crouse–

Obesity has become the leading public health problem in the country. With the rise of mass production of processed foods, and the steady economy fall, fast and affordable have become the main factors in consumer food choices. Local grocery stores pay anywhere from fourteen to sixty dallors for fresh fruits and vegetables and that number increases in the winter when supply is short. The fact that sugary foods cost less and are more convenient for working adults can make them the choice over expensive healthy foods.

“If people would prepare their own food, it would be cheaper and overall better, healthier,” said Travis Henderson, MD, at Mobridge Regional Hospital and Clinic. Henderson also suggested making homemade whole grain wheat bread and starting a garden, that in turn will be cheaper than the store, convenient, and a physically active activity.

The obesity crisis is a vicious cycle, the rising health problems in adults of the surrounding counties, are reflected to their children. The way parents eat is taught to their children leading not only to the rise in adult weight problems but also adolescents.

The Mobridge-Pollock school is taking steps to create a healthier menu for the students. One example is the use of whole grain breading on chicken nuggets and the crust of pizza.

“The cost of fresh fruits and vegetables are more expensive, but is worth the extra cost,” said Pearl Haux, the school food service director.

The school is also cutting the calories in sweets at the school by making chocolate chip cookies with whole grain flour and honey instead of sugars. The current calorie intake per meal is 850 calories, with a gradual decline over the next couple years.

According to the Center of Disease Control (CDC) there are several consequences of being overweight and obese. Including but not limited to hypertension, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, sleep apnea, respiratory problems, and some cancers such as endometrial, breast, and colon. The CDC is cautioning people to be more active, eat better and live a healthier lifestyle.

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