Black Hills Knowledge Netowork

Mathew Christensen
Mathew Christensen

Obesity, Tobacco, and Cancer in South Dakota


According to the 2011 F as in Fat report, South Dakota ranked 17th in the nation with an adult obesity rate of 28.7 percent (15 years before the report, South Dakota ranked 25th with only 14.5 percent obese). This rate is higher than all neighboring states, which range from 28 percent in North Dakota down to 23.8 percent in Montana. Ten years ago, none of these states had an obesity rate over 24 percent. The 2020 goal is to bring South Dakota's obesity rate down to 23 percent.

In the Black Hills region, obesity rates range from a low of 22.8 percent in Lawrence County to a high of 40.9 percent in Shannon County. Pennington County sits at 26.2 percent. 

The Kids Count project has data on childhood obesity in South Dakota.


The Center for Disease Control links tobacco to more than 1,000 deaths in South Dakota each year. Reducing tobacco use should bring about a reduction in these deaths and lower health costs. Currently, 17.5 percent of South Dakota adults smoke cigarettes regularly (down from a peak in 1998 of 27 percent). The Department of Health's goal is to bring this down to 15 percent by 2020.

Smoking rates among teens and young adults, however, have raised concerns. According to the 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 23 percent of high school students in South Dakota smoke (down from 28 percent in 2005 and 44 percent in 1999). Among young adults, the smoking rate has dropped from 29 to 27 percent since 2003, but this decline seems to have levelled off. Meanwhile, smokers account for 48 percent of the Native American population. Nearly 1 in 5 women report smoking during pregnancy (although this number is slowly dropping). For more infomation about teen and youth smoking read Teen Smoking in South Dakota.

According to County Health Rankings, in the Black Hills region, Custer has the lowest smoking rate at 19 percent, Shannon County is the highest at 47 percent, with the remaining counties in the low 20 percent range.


The key to dealing with cancer is early detection, especially with colorectal cancer (almost 100 percent chance of cure if caught early). The Department of Health's goal for 2020 is to increase the number of adults over the age of 50 who have had colorectal screenings from 71.4 percent to 85 percent.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer (excluding skin cancer) and the second leading cause of death by cancer for men and women in the US. In 2012, an estimated 420 South Dakotans will develop a new case of colorectal cancer and 160 will die from it. According to the Center for Disease Control, at least 6 out 10 of these deaths (96 people) could be prevented with regular screenings.

Links and Resources


SD Health Secretary: Data Really Does Matter- Article on May 16, 2012 Data Matters forum on Health

South Dakota Department of Health- Home page for the South Dakota Department of Health

South Dakota Department of Health 2020- Snapshot of goals for improving South Dakota's health.

2020 Strategic Plan Summary- Summary of the 2020 plan.


10 States Where Obesity Rates Are Skyrocketing- Map and list showing growing obesity rates, with South Dakota in spot 5.

F as in Fat- 2011 Report placing South Dakota as 17th most obese state.

Obesity and Consumption of Veggies- Tool comparing obesity in counties to consumption of vegetables.

Overweight and Obese- Report from the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion in regards to South Dakota State Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity Profile as of 2012. 


County Health Rankings- Comparisons of South Dakota counties for tobacco use and other health.

South Dakota Smoking Trends- Data compilbed about smoking in South Dakota by the Knowledge Network. 

Smoking Effects on Pregnancy- Information from the CDC in regards to smoking and pregnancy.

Tobacco Control Program- Department of Health page with resources for current smokers wanting to quit.

Tobacco Control Program Strategic Plan- 2010 plan from the South Dakota Department of Health with an overview of tobacco use in South Dakota and a plan to decrease new smokers, help current smokers quit, and reduce second-hand smoke exposure.

Colorectal Cancer.

Cancer- South Dakota Cancer Registry and information from South Dakota Department of Health.

Colorectal Cancer in South Dakota- Overview of Colorectal Cancer from South Dakota Department of Health.

Colorectal Cancer Screening- Fact sheet from the National Cancer Institute.

Colorectal Cancer Statistics- Statistics on Colorectal Cancer.

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