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South Carolinians are told often the state faces major issues with some of the most serious and life-threatening conditions and diseases.

According to a new study released by SeniorLiving.org, it all adds up to the Palmetto State ranking 42nd for life expectancy at 76.8 years.

Key findings in South Carolina:

  • Heart disease: South Carolina ranks No. 16 with 172 deaths per 100,000 people.
  • Cancer: South Carolina ranks No. 14 with 162.7 deaths per 100,000 people.
  • Suicide: South Carolina ranks No. 26 with 16.3 suicides per 100,000 people.
  • Drug overdoses: South Carolina ranks No. 27 with 20.5 drug overdoses per 100,000 people.
  • Liver disease: South Carolina ranks No. 12 with 13.1 liver-related deaths per 100,000.

A key factor in life expectancy is diet, with the problem of obesity being a leading cause of health problems. Not surprisingly, South Carolina has issues with obesity.

A study released by ConsumerProtect.com shows the state is the 10th most obese in America with 34.1% of the adult population struggling with obesity.

And the problem is getting worse. The national average shows 30.1% of adults are obese, a number that has doubled from 15% in 1990.

It’s not only bad news for our waistlines, but also our wallets. The cost of treating obesity – linked to early death, heart disease and diabetes -- is up to $210 billion annually.

Reversing the trend will require individual action. But a problem within the problem is that too many people think they know what to do to combat obesity, but do not.

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Another new study, this one from MDVIP and Ipsos, reveals startling gaps in Americans' dietary and weight-loss knowledge.

While 85% of Americans say they know how to eat right, more than half flunked a basic quiz on dietary facts and weight loss.

The MDVIP Fat IQ Survey reveals contradictory behaviors relating to obesity and weight management and explores deeper motivations that may stimulate lifestyle changes and offer Americans a higher probability of losing weight successfully.

"Contrary to what most Americans think, they are largely ill-informed when it comes to proper dieting and weight loss,” said Dr. Andrea Klemes, chief medical officer at MDVIP. "It's easy for people to become overwhelmed by the constant flood of information, which can be confusing. For instance, many people still believe that strength training makes it harder to lose weight, when actually having more muscle helps you burn more calories. As their report card shows, Americans need help separating the facts from fiction.”

So what's the best way to get the knowledge and assistance needed in weight loss and weight management?

Just as with other health issues, physicians can be key.

The survey shows that when it comes to shedding excess pounds, 4 out of 5 Americans say that hearing from a doctor that they need to lose weight would motivate them (83%). An even greater number (90%) say they would be influenced if a doctor told them that they have a serious health risk. Yet, only 1 in 5 Americans say they've actually asked their primary care doctor for weight loss help or advice (20 percent).

It seems that Dr. Klemes is on target: "The survey data suggests that Americans aren't tapping into the one resource that could have the most influence on their weight – their physician. Time constraints in the exam room are a serious limitation, plus the misconception that obesity is a personal choice prevents people from establishing an open dialogue with their doctor. Instead, the topic of weight doesn't come up until it's manifested into a more pressing health concern like chronic back pain, high cholesterol or worse – a diagnosis of diabetes, heart disease or cancer.”

A conversation with your doctor is in order for many South Carolinians.

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