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Minnesota's obesity rate holds steady; neighboring states getting heavier

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Minnesotans - at least some of us - are apparently eating better and getting more exercise, because the number of us considered obese hasn't increased over the past seven years.

The rates of obesity among our closest neighbors have gone up during that time, according to a new report from the Minnesota Department of Health.

The report says fewer than 26 percent of adult Minnesotans were considered obese in 2013, and that rate has been at 26 percent or below since 2010. That's better than our neighbors in Iowa, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota, which all had rates between 29 and 31 percent.

Nationwide, about 29 percent of all adults were obese in 2013, the report says. Here are a few other fast facts about obesity in the U.S.

The data, which came from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also show the number of Minnesota residents at a healthy weight in 2013 increased by more than 60,000 compared with 2010.

Because the state's obesity rate hasn't gone up in the past few years, Minnesota has saved $265 million in obesity-related medical expenses as of 2013, according to the health department.

Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger attributes some of the success to the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP), which was created in 2008 to help communities improve the health of their residents.

SHIP focuses on increasing physical activity, improving nutrition and reducing tobacco use. It awarded $35 million in grants the past two years to schools and community groups around the state for projects to improve walking routes to school, promote better nutrition, encourage workplace wellness activities, support anti-smoking programs and the like.

Other health indicators

Minnesota also scores higher than most other states on other health measures, according to the annual County Health Rankings put together by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin.

The study found that Minnesota has fewer premature deaths, fewer adults reporting poor physical or mental health, and fewer babies born underweight.

The state also has a lower rate of smoking (16 percent) compared to the national average (21 percent), while the state’s great outdoors provides more access to physical activity.

One problem area for the state is alcohol, with 19 percent of adults admitting to binge or heavy drinking, compared to 16 percent nationally.

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