Minnesota sees significant drop in obesity rate

February 8th, 2017

State’s adult obesity rate remains lowest in the region

The state’s adult obesity rate saw a statistically significant drop between 2014 and 2015, from 27.6 percent in 2014 to 26.1 percent in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Minnesota was the only state in the region, including North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Iowa, to succeed in keeping its obesity rates firmly below 30 percent. According to data released early September by CDC, neighboring states’ rates ranged from 30.7 to 32.1 percent.

CDC released 2015 state- and territory-specific data on adult obesity prevalence using self-reported information from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). All states had more than one in five adults (20 percent) with obesity.

“Minnesota’s obesity rate is markedly lower than our surrounding states and we were still able to achieve a greater decrease in 2015 than our neighboring states,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dr. Ed Ehlinger. “Achieving healthy weight for all Minnesotans is one of the key objectives for our Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) and its community and private sector partners. By working together we’ve been able to increase opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity for all Minnesotans in every corner of the state.”

Obesity rates can have a major impact on health care costs for related chronic diseases like diabetes. In 2008, Minnesota policymakers responded to skyrocketing health care costs driven in part by rising obesity rates, by enacting SHIP, as part of Minnesota’s bipartisan health care reform legislation. Since that time, Minnesota’s obesity rate held steady until it ticked up from 2013 to 2014 (from 25.5 percent to 27.6 percent). These latest CDC findings confirm that Minnesota has returned to its historically low obesity rate that remains steady on a year-to-year basis even as other states and the U.S. as a whole continues on an upward trend.

According to combined data from the CDC, the adult obesity rate for African Americans in Minnesota was 29.9 percent, which is lower than the national figure of 38.1 percent.

According to Meeker-McLeod-Sibley Community Health Behavior Survey results, in 2014, the obesity rates for adults ages 18 and older were:  37.2% Meeker,  30.5% McLeod and 35.4% Sibley. While it is great news that overall the state obesity rate has decreased there is still a significant amount of work to be done locally.   Meeker-McLeod-Sibley Community Health Services (MMS CHS) is working with many partners, such as local schools, farmers markets and worksites to name a few, on projects to improve healthy eating and physical activity options across the three counties. The goal of the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) is to help Minnesotans live longer, healthier, better lives by preventing risk factors that lead to chronic disease. MMS CHS and the Meeker-McLeod-Sibley Healthy Communities Collaborative have been working for the past 6 1/2 years to help create good health where residents, live, work, learn and play. They are working together on making the Healthy Choice the Easy Choice! You can find out about the work they do together at http://www.mmshealthycommunities.org/

Additional results of the 2014 Community Behavior Health Survey can be found at http://www.mmshealthycommunities.org/wp-content/uploads/MMS-Community-Health-Survey-Results-Public-Version.pdf

Many factors play a role in obesity, making it a complex health issue to address. Across Minnesota, communities are working together through SHIP to expand healthy eating and active living opportunities along with tobacco prevention with multiple strategies, across multiple setting and sectors. SHIP spends $17.5 million per year supporting grant funding to local community partners that is in all 87 counties and 10 tribal nations. SHIP grants support locally controlled community health boards, which have linked with more than 2,570 active partner sites. These efforts support and leverage the work of a variety of partners such as community groups, schools, employers, farmers, chambers of commerce, hospitals and health care facilities, city planners, county boards, tribal officials and more.

For more information on the health of Meeker, McLeod, and Sibley Counties and the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) work that is occurring contact Mary Bachman, Meeker-McLeod-Sibley Community Health Services SHIP Coordinator at 507-237-4000

Smoke-free public housing cuts secondhand smoke exposure by nearly half

July 21st, 2016

reasons for quitting smoking graph

Smoke-free policies have the potential to provide healthier environments at multifamily, public housing while also motivating residents to smoke less or quit smoking, according to a new study by the Minnesota Department of Health’s Office of Statewide Health Improvement Initiatives (OSHII).

The eight public housing properties in this study implemented smoke-free policy changes after working with local public health agencies through the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP).

After the smoke-free policies were implemented, the MDH study found a 46 percent drop in frequent indoor secondhand smoke exposure among non-smokers. In addition, 77 percent of smokers reported reducing the amount that they smoke and 5 percent reported that they had quit. Smokers noted the policy change was as much of a factor in their reduced smoking as wanting to improve their health.

According to Allie Freidrichs, Meeker-McLeod-Sibley Community Health Services Director, “a significant benefit to this work is that the people that are most vulnerable – elderly, children, and people with asthma and other respiratory diseases, are protected from exposure to toxic chemicals contained in secondhand smoke.”

SHIP grantees are working across Minnesota to help implement smoke-free policies at public housing and privately owned properties in their communities to ensure greater access to quality, smoke-free housing.  For Meeker-McLeod-Sibley SHIP, we have worked with over 50 properties locally on smoke free housing since SHIP began in 2009.

Smoke in housing developments can easily pass from one unit to another through walls, doors and shared ventilation systems. In the MDH study, the percentage of residents reporting exposure to secondhand smoke a few times per month decreased from 44 percent to 23.6 percent after the properties went smoke free.

The work by SHIP grantees and their partners puts the state in a strong position to prepare for proposed changes by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that would prohibit the use of cigarettes, cigars or pipes in all public housing living units, indoor common areas, administrative offices, and possibly outdoor areas within 25 feet of housing and administrative office buildings. The final rule is expected in the fall of 2016.

HUD estimates that annual cost savings nationally from eliminating smoking in public housing would be $153 million; the bulk of the savings would come from reduced health care costs related to secondhand smoke. In Minnesota, smoking causes more than $2.5 billion in medical costs annually.

For a second component of this evaluation, MDH interviewed local public health staff and property managers and owners of affordable housing properties who have implemented smoke-free housing policies.

Non smokers shs exposure

Factors that led to greater implementation and enforcement success included educating staff and residents on the adverse health effects of second and third-hand smoke (residual nicotine and other toxins left on indoor surfaces by tobacco smoke), receiving assistance from experts such as local public health staff and technical assistance providers, emphasizing the economic benefits of going smoke free and practicing consistent enforcement policies.

Get more information about the MDH evaluation study here.

To learn more about local work on smoke-free multifamily housing, contact Jean Johnson at (320) 864-1376 or Allie Freidrichs at (507) 766-3531.

Litchfield Is Working to Become Dementia Friendly

July 8th, 2016

ACT litchfield

Families in every city, town, and rural area in Minnesota are feeling the effects of Alzheimer’s and related dementias. Relatives, friends, colleagues, and neighbors are touched by the disease, and many want to help.
Litchfield is one of up to 43 action communities throughout the state taking steps to create a dementia friendly culture, which is informed, safe, and respectful of people living with dementia and their families, provides supportive features community-wide, and fosters quality of life for everyone. Every part of Litchfield can take steps to create a dementia friendly community, such as:

  • Businesses that train employees on interacting with customers who have dementia
  • Clinics that promote early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and provide care and support options
  • Faith communities that welcome and engage people living with dementia and their families
  • Residential settings that offer services and activities adapted for memory loss issues


The Alzheimer’s Association estimates there are 91,000 Minnesotans age 65 and older with the disease and thousands more with other dementias. The disease also touches nearly 250,000 family members and friends who are caregivers. In Litchfield, an estimated 137 people over the age of 65 will have dementia, and in the Litchfield Area those numbers expand to 241 people. As a response to this reality, Litchfield is using an evidence-based community toolkit to assess current strengths and gaps in meeting needs related to Alzheimer’s, to identify community goals and ways to respond, and to determine action steps to achieve the goals.
In order to move towards a more dementia friendly community, the Litchfield ACT on Alzheimer’s team is building a team to assess the needs of the community. We are looking for people who would be willing to join the assessment team or people who would be willing to be a participant in our survey’s and interviews.
The Litchfield ACT on Alzheimer’s team will be hosting a community event to kick off the start of our project and community involvement. The event will be a showing of the film “Still Alice” with Sandy Oltz, Julianne Moore’s consultant, giving a short speech before. This event will be held on Friday, July 22 at 6 pm at the Little Theater at the Litchfield High School. This event is free to the community and everyone is welcome to learn more about dementia and Alzheimer’s and what our team is doing to make the Litchfield Area more dementia friendly. You can RSVP to the even by going online to www.meekermemorial.org/calendar/ or by calling (320)693-4590. On behalf of the Litchfield ACT on Alzheimer’s team and the Meeker Memorial Hospital, we invite you to come by.
To learn more about this important work and how to get involved, please contact Alexa Deal, MMH Communications Intern at adeal@meekermemorial.org.

Sibley East Elementary receives MDOT Safe Routes to School Planning Grant

July 7th, 2016

boy riding bike on street

Funding supports safe travel for students to get to school

ST. PAUL, Minn. – More than 60 Minnesota schools will receive a share of $2 million in state and federally funded Safe Routes to Schools grants to support and help students walk or bicycle to and from school safely, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

“Each year, more schools are becoming part of the Safe Routes to School program, which increases opportunities for children to walk and bike to school,” said MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle.

“Safe bicycle and pedestrian access has many benefits, including easing congestion around schools and reducing school transportation costs. Biking and walking also provides a chance for physical activity, which improves health and supports academic achievement.”

Grants were awarded in two categories. Infrastructure grants were given to schools to support projects identified through planning efforts with cities and counties.

Planning grants were awarded to schools to analyze existing conditions for walking and biking, gather public input and identify potential solutions.

Regional development commissions, cities and schools are recipients of planning assistance awards. Sibley East falls under Region Nine Development Commission for their award.

  • Region Nine Development Commission
    Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial Secondary, Sibley East Elementary, Springfield Public Schools, District 85; St. Raphael Catholic Schools.

For the rest of the article you can find it here Source: MDOT

Meeker and Sibley Communities Receive Grants to Support “Dementia Friendly” Efforts

May 10th, 2016

Act on Alzheimer's LogoTen communities and their lead organizations have been awarded a grant from ACT on Alzheimer’s to closely consider how best to prepare their communities for the impacts of Alzheimer’s and other dementias and to work toward community-wide support of people touched by the disease.

The ten grantees include six rural and four urban communities; rural areas: Arlington (City of Arlington), Ely (Northwoods Partners), Granite Falls (Living at Home Block Nurse Program – Granite Falls), Litchfield (Meeker Memorial Hospital), Pine City (City of Pine City), and Sartell (Opportunity Matters); urban areas: Anoka (Impact Services), Chanhassen (City of Chanhassen), Duluth (The Victory Fund), and West African Community in Brooklyn Center (Holy Trinity Episcopal Church). The new communities join 33 existing communities statewide.

The Alzheimer’s Association estimates there are 91,000 Minnesotans age 65 and older living with Alzheimer’s and many thousands more with other dementias. The grantees will join community engagement efforts across Minnesota in preparing for the personal, social, and budgetary impacts of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

The grant awards are funded through Blue Plus (an HMO affiliate of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota), Medica Foundation, Stratis Health’s Building Healthier Communities Award, and Greater Twin Cities United Way and administered through the Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging.

Source: ACT on Alzheimer’s  http://www.actonalz.org/