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Study Reveals Obesity Rates in the South are Some of Highest in the Country; South Carolina Places 8th

A new study shows that 12 states have obesity rates higher than 30%, and 26 of the 30 states with high obesity rates are in the South and Midwest. South Carolina ranks number 8 in the study, with an obesity rate of 30.8%. Five years ago, South Carolina ranked 10th in the nation, with between three or four people dying each day from diabetes and related complications.

shutterstock_565889569More than one-third of adults in the United States are now obese, according to the study. However, rates vary greatly by state. Colorado had the lowest rate of obesity, at 20.7%, while Mississippi had an obesity rate of 34.9%. South Carolina, while not the worst in the nation, still places diabetes as the 7th leading cause of death in the state. Currently, between 300,000 and 500,000 people in South Carolina have diabetes, with an estimated one-third unaware of their condition.

The study was conducted by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, based on self-reported information over the phone. The data was collected in 2011, and for the first time included houses that had only cell phones, not landlines. The participants self-reported on their height and weight.

Groups at highest risk for developing diabetes are African Americans, American Indians, Hispanic Americans and Asian/Pacific Islanders – particularly in poorer states like South Carolina.

While a different study shows that Type 2 diabetes is a bigger risk factor for people with normal weight, Type 2 diabetes has a strong link with obesity. People with Type 2 diabetes can face serious complications, including increased risk of heart disease and stroke, kidney failure, and blindness from diabetic macular edema. In addition, medications to help treat diabetes, such as Actos and Avandia, can cause further complications such as even greater risk of heart disease and macular edema, as well as an increased risk of bladder cancer when taking Actos.

In 2006, medical costs because of complications related to obesity totaled 10% of medical spending – $147 million. That number is higher in South Carolina – health care spending in the state was at $199.5 million in 2006, with Medicare and Medicaid covering two-thirds of the cost.

The Health Executive Director of Trust for America’s Health, Jeffrey Levi, says that there is a growing body of knowledge to help Americans make healthy choices. However, very little medical spending is invested in reducing obesity rates.

South Carolina recently completed a pilot program to help lower the cost of treatments for complications related to obesity, including Type 2 diabetes. In a radical attempt to reduce rates of obesity in the state, last January, SC gave $2.4 million to fund a bariatric surgery program. The surgery reduces the size of the stomach, so patients can lose weight by simply eating less. The procedure has had good long-term success with weight-loss, recovery from diabetes, and improvement in cardiovascular risk factors. Mortality was reduced by 40% in patients that were not elderly or severely obese.

In the meantime, drug companies such as Takeda Pharmaceuticals, which manufactures Actos, spend money on research into drugs that can help treat Type 2 diabetes, but may be released on the market too soon, and cause additional complications.

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, talk with your doctor about treatments you can try before medication, or in concert with medication. If you have been taking Actos or Avandia for more than a year, and have been diagnosed with heart disease, macular edema, liver failure, or bladder cancer, you may be entitled to compensation. The experienced lawyers at Strom Law, LLC, are based in South Carolina, and are currently accepting cases nationwide. We offer free consultations, so please contact us today to discuss the facts of your case. 803.252.4800.



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