NOTE: The following is an excerpt from TeleVox’s Healthy World report, “A Call for Change: How Adopting a Preventive Lifestyle Can Ensure a Healthy Future for More Americans”, which highlights the fact that too many Americans are not adopting preventive care and lifestyle changes due to perceived high cost. Download it HERE!
The South has been nicknamed “The Diabetes Belt”, thanks mostly to the comfort foods that are a staple in this area. Foods cooked in butter and meals loaded with meat and potatoes provide the backing behind the nickname. Sadly, however, the region is failing to do much to correct the current stereotype.
According to the CDC, the South is still the region with the highest obesity rate at 29.5 percent. The CDC also found that seven out of the 12 U.S. states with the highest rate of obesity, 30 percent or higher, are in the South: Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas — Mississippi standing with 35 percent of its population as obese, the worst in the nation. And though 51 percent of Southerners surveyed for A Call for Change: How Adopting a Preventive Lifestyle Can Ensure a Healthy Future for More Americans said that over the past two years they’ve tried to exercise routinely, or at least three times a week, and 55 percent have attempted to improve their eating habits or have incorporated more nutritious foods into meals, almost half of those in the South (46 percent) are currently treating a disease or chronic illness, such as high blood pressure, a heart problem, diabetes or cancer. In addition, 51 percent are on regularly-prescribed medications. That’s one out of every two people who are fighting a disease or chronic condition that could have possibly been prevented.
Are Southerners “Walking the Talk”?
According to A Call for Change, the South also reported the lowest amount of people (tied with the Midwest), 22 percent, who gave themselves an A grade for their efforts to ensure a preventive lifestyle. With diabetes so prevalent in the South because of the home style cooking and lack of physical activity, it’s astonishing that only 27 percent have been screened for diabetes in the last two years. Also surprisingly low is the number of people (only 33 percent) who have had their cholesterol checked. And though A Call for Change found that 55 percent of Southerners said a doctor’s recommendation is their primary reason for seeking prevention, only 34 percent have taken the preventive measure of discussing medical history and risk factors with their physician, and only 14 percent have been screened for cancer. With that being said, the South reported the highest number of people, 96 percent, who feel that prevention is important.
Light at the End of the Tunnel
With this, it would seem that there is a light at the end of the tunnel for those in the South, as A Call for Change found 92 percent of Southerners did agree that taking proper preventive care measures will save patients money and believe it’s less expensive to prevent a serious condition or disease than it is to treat it. The next objective is bringing awareness to the region about what their insurance plan covers and how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act can help. According to A Call for Change, 32 percent of those in the South said they still don’t know what their policy covers in terms of preventive services. The South also held the highest number of people (tied with the West) who feel that out-of-pocket costs are the primary deciding factor when choosing to seek a preventive lifestyle. Educating the region on the resources available and the coverage possibilities will be important in moving the South toward healthier, preventive lifestyles.