Obesity bigger problem in S.D. than most think

Laura Lucas

Laura Lucas

The fourth annual F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies Are Failing in America came out with the 2007 report by the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH). The study found that obesity rates rose in 31 states. South Dakota has the 20th highest rate of adult obesity with 24.9 percent.

The state with the highest rate of adult obesity is Mississippi with 30.6 percent. Colorado, at 17.6 percent, was the state with the lowest rate.

Alyssa Bechen, a registered dietitian at SDSU Student Health, said that we are seeing an obesity epidemic because of our increase in calories and decrease in exercise. There are many health risks connected to obesity including diabetes, heart disease and some cancers, Bechen said.

When asked her thoughts on obesity in college life, Bechen said, “Everyone seems to think that this epidemic does not affect them, but in fact, we are growing bigger gradually and as a society. With increases in alcohol consumption, study foods and limited physical activity, weight is increased over time and is harder to get rid of. I also believe that SDSU has taken a huge step to improve student well-being by choosing to build a new wellness center.”

Freshman James Bulock said that he does not think obesity is a big deal on campus or in South Dakota.

“I don’t think obesity is a problem on this campus any more than any other campus,” Micah Newhouse, a junior mechanical engineer major, said.

The study also found that South Dakota has the 39th highest rate of overweight youths in the nation. Some key things found include that South Dakota is not one of the 16 states screening students’ body mass index (BMI) or fitness status. Also, South Dakota is one of two states that does not require some form of physical education in elementary and secondary schools. However, South Dakota is one of eleven states that passed legislation to limit obesity-related lawsuits. “We tend to raise our children in the same matter that we were raised, therefore, in order to stop obesity, we need to understand how to raise children with adequate nutrition as we start families,” Bechen said.