Report: 66% of SC residents are overweight

By Brandi Cummings - bio | email

STATEWIDE (WIS) - According to a new report, 31 percent of South Carolinians are obese and 66 percent are overweight. The report says higher obesity rates lead to higher health care costs, and one researcher says addressing the problem starts at the top.

Your environment affects everything about you, including your weight. USC Public Health researcher Dan Bornstein says changing that environment could lead to better health. "We need to create and foster environments or create environments that will foster more physical activity and access to healthier food," said Bornstein.

The need is urgent. A new study released Thursday shows obesity rates in South Carolina continue to climb. In fact, the state is the eighth fattest in the nation.
Bornstein says change starts with policy makers and those with the ability to alter the environment for others. "That could be anyone from a head of household all the way up to the governor or president of the united states," he said.

Obesity affects more than just health. A study published in the journal Special Forces even linked obesity to a lower success rate, especially for women. "I don't think its unrealistic to think that somebody who is overweight may not be as able to achieve professionally or in school as maybe their leaner counterparts," said Bornstein.

Bornstein says research does suggest a relationship between achievement and obesity, but thinks there are many other factors to consider. "We do know that there's a relationship between level of education and socioeconomic status and certain health outcomes including obesity," he said.

Despite the fact that 66 percent of the state is considered overweight, Bornstein admits it poses a huge opportunity for change. "We have the potential to demonstrate the impact that some of these policy changes can have on a population that is so ill-affected by this problem," said Bornstein.

Those changes can start right now with you, and go a long way to improving your health and the health of state. Doctors say if you do some type of physical activity for at least 10 minutes a day, you could dramatically reduce your risk for chronic health problems.

The report says higher obesity rates lead to higher health care costs. The groups want governments to help provide better school lunches and policies that will encourage more active lifestyles.

That's already happening in Spartanburg, where the Mary Black Foundation is sprucing up playgrounds, building walking trails and supporting the local farmers market in an effort to encourage healthier living.

Copyright 2011 WIS. All rights reserved. AP contributed to this report.