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The high cost of obesity

Rising rates of obesity means more chronic diseases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that two-thirds of American adults are either overweight or obese. The problem is not limited to adults, as one-third of American children and teenagers are clinically overweight or obese.

Iowa and South Dakota are not immune. In 1988, 14 percent of adults in Iowa and South Dakota were obese. In 2014, the rate grew to 30.9 percent in Iowa and 29.8 percent in South Dakota.

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What’s more, rising rates of obesity contribute to a wide range of chronic diseases. Experts suggest there are more than 50 diseases linked to obesity, including several cancers, diabetes, heart conditions, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, and depression.

The answer to the problem is not simple. Epidemiologists point to the culture and environment we have created. For example, portion sizes in restaurants have grown by four times the recommended amount. Communities have become more focused on making it easier for cars than pedestrians, walkers, runners and bikers. Schools have reduced recess time and serve processed foods for lunch. Students are riding the bus to school rather than walking. Workplaces have become more sedentary due to increases in technology. Even our homes are jam-packed with conveniences that don’t require as much manual labor as in the past — garage door openers, remote controls for TV, etc.

One thing is for certain: The environments in which we live, work and play are central to the problem, and the solution. That’s why, at Wellmark, we are working at the community level and are proud to introduce the Healthy HometownSM POWERED by Wellmark program.

How the Healthy Hometown program works

There is no place like your hometown. Did you know that your hometown could also impact your health? The Healthy HometownSM POWERED by Wellmark program is a way to make your hometown a healthier place to live. Healthy Hometown aims to make the healthy choice, the easy choice, using evidence-based interventions and tools.

Every community has different health priorities, as well as people and budgets to put plans into action. Healthy Hometown can be customized easily to meet your community’s needs.

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Communities and organizations can get involved by:

  1. Completing an online self-asssessment — The online self-assessment tool at Iowa Healthiest State External Site is available for worksites, schools and communities to review where they are today and how they can connect with existing resources geared toward making the healthy choice.
  2. Receiving help from experts in picking a priority and implementing a plan or determining to undergo a complete community transformation — Interested communities in Iowa can complete a Statement of Interest (SOI) in early 2017. After the SOI has been received, a Healthy Hometown representative will contact you to discuss your SOI and ask additional questions to gauge your community readiness. SOIs will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis and work will commence based on community readiness. Please note the self-assessment is not required to complete the SOI.

In South Dakota, the self-assessment tool and Statement of Interest will be available in 2017.

Read more about Healthy Hometown .

Healthy Living
Healthy Living