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May 10, 2017

SIOUX FALLS, SD — A new report, The Health of South DakotansPDF File , released by Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Dakota identified obesity as a common, underlying factor that has an impact on South Dakotans’ quality of life and the economy of South Dakota communities. Obesity rates have drastically increased over the past 25 years — so much so that if obesity was a contagious disease, it would be considered an epidemic both in South Dakota and across the country.

“By taking a step back and looking at how our members truly use their health insurance, we were able to identify some interesting trends,” said Mary Lawyer, Wellmark’s director of community health improvement. “The obesity link was not surprising. Our environment has changed over time to include more conveniences that have made us become more sedentary. In fact, experts suggest there are more than 50 diseases today linked to obesity.”

What the data shows

The Health of South Dakotans reviews the top-five most costly conditions for members, their link to obesity and the national, average cost for treatment. Those top-five costly conditions include: 
  1. Cancer 
  2. Bone and joint disorders
  3. Digestive disorders
  4. Heart Conditions
  5. Back pain

The report also addresses the impact of chronic disease and the important role preventive care has in influencing positive outcomes.

Importantly, the report provides real solutions and resources consumers can use to take action. This includes adding incremental physical activity to their everyday activities and using the resources and tools available from Good & Healthy South DakotaExternal Site .

“Several of the conditions in The Health of South Dakotans report are considered chronic diseases that are very difficult to reverse, therefore, prevention is key,” said Lawyer. “This report is designed to inform and encourage consumers to invest the time now — a healthy lifestyle not only gives back physically but also financially and emotionally.”