News release: Minnesota alone trims obesity rates among upper Midwest states

News Release
April 20, 2015

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Minnesota alone trims obesity rates among upper Midwest states

Significant health care savings linked to 60,000 more Minnesotans at a healthy weight

Minnesota has outperformed nearby states by being the only one of its neighbors to bend the curve on obesity rates, according to a recent MDH analysis of CDC data.

U.S. and Regional Obesity Rates

US and Regional Obesity Rates Chart

Data source: CDC Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System

Minnesota’s adult obesity rates have held constant since 2008, while rates continued climbing nationally and in nearby states. Minnesota was the only state in the region, including North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Iowa, to succeed at bringing its obesity rate below 26 percent. Minnesota’s rates have stayed below 26 percent since 2010, while according to the most recent 2013 CDC data, neighboring states have seen their rates climb to the range of 29 to 31 percent.

In addition, the number of Minnesotans at a healthy weight in 2013 has increased by more than 60,000 compared with 2010. This is more than 11 percent higher than the U.S. as a whole. By keeping obesity rates flat in Minnesota, MDH estimates savings of $265 million in statewide obesity-related medical expenses incurred as of 2013.1

In 2013, approximately 18,600 Minnesotans covered by state health care programs moved from overweight to a healthy weight. There is an estimated annual savings of as much as $9 million to state taxpayers due to this change to healthy weight alone.

“Obesity is a complex condition with many contributing factors. We know diet and exercise are key, and I am confident that Minnesota’s success is closely tied to investments by the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) and its community and private sector partners to increase Minnesotans opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dr. Ed Ehlinger.

In 2008, Minnesotans responded to skyrocketing healthcare costs posed by rising obesity by enacting the Statewide Health Improvement Program, as part of Minnesota’s bipartisan health care reform legislation.  During the most recent round of $35 million in SHIP grant awards, locally-controlled community health boards have linked with more than 3,100 partner sites, including businesses, farmers, schools, child care providers, while supporting the work of a variety of partners such as community groups, chambers of commerce, hospitals, health plan insurers, city planners, county boards, tribal officials and more.


1Finkelstein et al. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 2012 42(6) pp. 563-570. Calculations adjusted for Minnesota actual and projected obesity rates.

Media inquiries:

Scott Smith
MDH Communications
651-503-1440 (Mobile)