South Carolina is, in one word, fat. Obesity is a problem all across the United States but it is particularly troublesome in the Palmetto State.It’s encouraging then to hear that Catherine Templeton, the new director of the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, has made reducing the obesity rate in South Carolina one of her top goals. If she succeeds in this area, our state will reap many rewards starting with healthier people and reduced medical expenses.
“It’s obesity, it’s obesity, it’s obesity — everything is fed by it,” Templeton was quoted by The State newspaper as saying at a recent DHEC meeting. “We need to concentrate on what kills the most South Carolinians, what makes the most South Carolinians sick, and what would, if prevented, save the state the most money.”
Many of the major diseases that haunt our state can trace their roots at least in part to obesity. Count among those diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and many forms of cancer. And as Templeton noted last month, according to The State, the “obesity clusters” in our state can be found primarily in poor, rural areas, and those places also have some of the highest rates of diabetes and heart disease.
The numbers coming out of South Carolina show how this state consistently ranks near the top in the country for diabetes and heart disease. According to the most recent numbers from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 36 percent of adults in our state are overweight and 29 percent are obese. The CDC considers an adult overweight with a Body Mass Index between 25 and 29.9, and obese with a Body Mass Index of 30 or higher.