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South Dakota Obesity Rate on the Rise

In 2016, 29.6% of South Dakotans were considered obese, according to federal data. The state’s rate is down slightly from the rate of 30.4% in 2015, and is also just below national rate of 30.1%. Several factors including race, gender, and income affect South Dakotans' risk, although the lines are not clearly drawn in all cases.

The Rushmore State ranked 30th among the 50 states for obesity. Montana had the third lowest rate of obesity in the nation, and also the lowest rate of obesity in the region at 23.4%. Iowa had the highest rate of obesity in the region at 32.1%.

State Percentage Ranking
Montana 25.5 6
Wyoming 27.7 16
Minnesota 27.8 17
South Dakota 29.6 23
North Dakota 31.9 36
Iowa 32.0 37
Nebraska 32.0 38

Obesity Rates Highest on Reservations

Data compiled from U.S. Census information shows that South Dakota's Indian reservations have the state's highest rates of obesity. In 2013, several of South Dakota’s reservation counties—Oglala Lakota, Dewey, Ziebach, Corson, and Buffalo Counties—had obesity rates around 40%.* Statewide, American Indians were the racial group with the highest obesity rates at 37.0%.

Different South Dakota Regions Show Differing Trends

Among South Dakota’s metro areas, Sioux City had the highest rate of obesity in 2013—the most recent year for which data is available—at 33.7%. The Rapid City and Sioux Falls metro areas had lower rates of obesity, at 28.2 and 27.4% respectively. The Black Hills region has same rate of obesity as the state as a whole.

Spearfish had the lowest rate of obesity among South Dakota’s metropolitan and micropolitan areas at 25.7%. Mitchell had the highest rate of obesity for South Dakota’s micropolitan areas at 33.6%, while Aberdeen, Watertown and Vermillion all hovered around 31%.

Education and Incomes

In 2016, obesity rates impacted individuals regardless of their income level. Individuals making making less than $15,000 had the lowest rate at 25.4% while those earning $25,000-$34,999 had the highest rates of obesity at 34.8% Nearly one-third of individuals with household incomes between $35,000-$49,999 and over $50,000 were obese during the same time period.

Less of a correlation can be seen in levels of education. In 2016, individuals with a high school diploma or GED had the highest rates of obesity, at 31.3%. This rate has decreased by nearly 4% since 2011. Meanwhile, obesity rates for individuals with a bachelor’s degree have increased over the same time period. In 2016, 28.7% of college graduates were obese, compared 26.1% in 2011. The%age of individuals who did not graduate high school and are obese has hovered between 30 and 31% since 2011.

According to 2016 data, more South Dakota men than women were obese. Statewide, 32.3% of men were obese in 2015 compared to 26.7% of women. The diabetes rate among South Dakotan men decreased by just short of one% from 2015-2016, while the diabetes rate among women fell by nearly two% over the same time period.

*2013 is the most recent year for which sub-state data (counties, reservation area, and metropolitan and micropolitan areas) is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


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