Quality of life in North Dakota is intrinsically tied to the health of its inhabitants. Health promotion throughout the life span, from prenatal through old age, can lead to optimum growth and development and gives individuals the best chance to be productive throughout their lives.
Health is a multifaceted concept that includes physical, mental, and socio-emotional components. One physical component that is linked to many chronic illnesses and conditions is obesity. The proportion of adults (18 years and older) in North Dakota who are obese continued to increase each year (28% in 2011, 30% in 2012, and 31% in 2013). Is this a cause for concern? Putting the numbers into context, as of 2013, nearly one-third of the adult population in North Dakota was obese. When compared to other states, North Dakota continued to fall in obesity rankings. In 2013, North Dakota ranked #37 out of 50 states in adult obesity (1=lowest obesity rate); however, two years prior, ND ranked 25th.
Furthermore, as previously stated, obesity is linked to numerous chronic illnesses, one of which is diabetes. When looking at the most recent data, we can see that the proportion of adults (18 years and older) diagnosed with diabetes has increased in North Dakota over time. In fact, the proportion nearly doubled from 4 percent in 1995 to 7 percent in 2010. During this same time period, North Dakota's obesity rate nearly doubled as well.
These type of indicators and data can be drivers of change. By understanding what the data is saying historically, where we are today, and knowing where we want to be, we are better able to plan initiatives and programs to make real and lasting change in our communities.
In this month's Ask a Researcher column, Wonwoo Byun, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition, and Exercise Sciences and a core faculty in the Master of Public Health Program at North Dakota State University, describes childhood obesity and discusses the importance of reducing sedentary behavior in obesity prevention.
Kim Bushaw, Extension Service Family Science Specialist at North Dakota State University, joins us in this month's For Discussion column to talk about the importance of "play" (i.e., movement activities) on cognitive and physical health.
To learn more about North Dakota health information and data, don't forget to check out the ND Compass Health topic area.