Minnesota has yet another thing to be proud of.
Of all the Upper Midwest states, Minnesota is alone in not increasing its obesity rates.
The Centers for Disease Control’s Behavioral Risk Factor Survey, which was recently released, shows adult obesity rates stayed constant since 2008 in Minnesota. Elsewhere, nationally and in most states, the rates increased. In some of our neighboring states, obesity increased at alarming rates, by as much as 31 percent in the past decade or so.
Not only did Minnesota’s obesity rate hold steady, but the number of people with “healthy” weights increased last year by 60,000 more people. That’s 11 percent higher than in the nation at large.
Also in 2013, 18,600 Minnesotans covered by state health-care programs changed from being overweight to healthy weight.
The Minnesota Department of Health estimated the state’s healthier weights translates into a whopping savings of $265 million in medical-related issues, including incidents of diabetes, heart disease and other side effects caused by obesity.
So what’s the secret? Nobody knows for sure. One would think we would be the Fatty State, what with our seemingly endless winters, being stuck inside all too often with the fridge beckoning temptingly.
Some claim the “secret” is the result of what’s called the Statewide Health Improvement Program. That program is part of the state’s bipartisan health-care reform legislation. It made possible $35 million in grants to cities’ health boards and their 3,100 partner sites that include businesses, schools, child-care providers and farmers. The network also involves chambers of commerce, hospitals, health-plan insurers, city planners, county boards, tribal officials and more.
Together, all of those work together in ways to promote healthy eating and physical activity.
We think another good reason for the success is the preponderance of excellent hiking-biking trails throughout the state, including the network of trails in the greater St. Cloud area.
We must guard against becoming too smug with our success. There is still plenty of slimming down to do. But at least this great state is making progress. In time – who knows? – we might even be known as the “Lean State.”