A recent survey among North Dakotans reveals that obesity and binge drinking rank high on the list of health concerns in the state.

The survey, conducted by CHI St. Alexius Health, Bismarck-Burleigh Public Health and Sanford Health in Bismarck, took a wide range of issues into consideration, ranking the overall level of concern expressed by respondents for each, as well as compiling statistics on the general health of the state's population.

Perhaps the most important findings of the survey are:

  • 30% of respondents are obese;
  • 24% admitted to binge drinking with some regularity;
  • 33% over 50 years of age have never underwent colon cancer screening;
  • 7% is diabetic.

Adding to the concern are a number of worrisome facts:

  • Infant death in American Indians is high statewide;
  • Alzheimer's-related deaths are higher by far in North Dakota than any other state;
  • half the population admits to not getting enough exercise;
  • seat belt use is lower in this state than the national average.

Asked to rate their concern about nine health topics on a scale of one (issues of relatively little concern) to five (those of high concern), participants revealed that their top worries have to do with the elderly -- particularly the availability and quality of long-term care, safety and mental health.

Economics, the state's children and youth population and substance abuse rate right behind the elderly; of least concern among residents are environmental and transportation issues.