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Report: SD smoking up, obesity down

South Dakotans are living longer than their fellow Americans, but smoking more. According to the 2017 County Health Rankings report released Wednesday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, South Dakotans are less likely to die prior to age 75 th...

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South Dakotans are living longer than their fellow Americans, but smoking more.

According to the 2017 County Health Rankings report released Wednesday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, South Dakotans are less likely to die prior to age 75 than the U.S. median, but 3 percent more residents smoke than the national average.

Despite the above average smoking rate within South Dakota, only 15 percent of Davison County adults are smokers, compared to 20 percent across the state. And according to Ashley Miller, the chronic disease epidemiologist with the South Dakota Department of Health, the state's high schoolers are smoking at an even lower rate.

"Like any other state, we continue to work toward decreasing our smoking rate and working with our priority populations, which includes high school youth," Miller said. "In 2015, the last available year of data, we saw the lowest smoking rate in S.D. high school students at 10.1 percent, indicating fewer young people are becoming smokers."

According to the state's 2015-2020 strategic health plan, only 18.6 percent of South Dakotans smoked in 2014, and the state hopes to reduce the number to 14.5 percent by 2020. In areas like Buffalo County, however, the goal may be hard to meet. According to the 2017 county health report, 36 percent of adults in Buffalo County are smokers, well above the state and national averages.

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After the report was released, a handful of community health offices in The Daily Republic's coverage area declined to respond to requests for specific comment on the rankings, instead referring questions to the state Department of Health (DOH). Davison County did not respond despite ranking 12th among the state's counties in terms of health outcomes, which weigh length and quality of life.

While Davison County's smoking rates are below average, the county is more susceptible to adult obesity at 34 percent, compared to the state average of 30 percent and a national median of 31 percent.

Miller said the state DOH is working to increase adult aerobic physical activity by 2020 in an effort to improve the health of citizens, as well as partnering with other groups in the state in the effort to decrease obesity. According to the state's strategic plan, 53.7 percent of South Dakotans met the recommended physical activity aerobic guidelines in 2013, and the hope is to hit 59 percent by 2020. And Miller expressed optimism about meeting the state's goals.

"We continue to work towards all goal areas within the DOH strategic plan and our workgroup meets routinely to review data and adjust efforts as needed," Miller said. "This is a long-term effort and we know real progress is going to require long-term effort."

Related Topics: HEALTH
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