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Thursday, April 15, 2021

Indiana gets fatter

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Obesity rate increases despite state effort

By ERICKA P. THOMPSON

Despite the state’s efforts to reduce the number of overweight and obese Hoosiers, we’re still in the top 10 as the fattest state in America.

Indiana ranked ninth out of all states in the Trust for America’s Health annual report of obesity in the U.S. The good news is that Indiana approved a notch better than last year’s report when it was tied for eighth. The bad news is that the percentage of overweight adults rose from 26.2 to 26.8.

“While the obesity epidemic has garnered increased attention,” says Jeffrey Levi, the trust’s executive director. “A comparable increase in action has yet to occur.”

Gov. Mitch Daniels has put forth recent efforts to reduce the rate of obesity in Indiana by instituting INShape Indiana, a wellness program that was designed to help all Hoosiers improve their health and quality of life by getting active, losing weight, eating more fruits, vegetables and dairy foods; and if they’re tobacco users, kicking the habit.

“Adopting a healthy lifestyle is good for you and good for Indiana,” Daniels said during the launch of the initiative. “Too many Hoosiers are losing years because they do not embrace healthy habits, and health care costs in Indiana are among the highest in the country.”

Mississippi led the nation for the third year in a row and became the first state to reach the 30 percent barrier for obese adults. Colorado was noted as the leanest state in the nation with an obesity rate projected at 17.6 percent.

Officials at the Trust are advocating for the government to play a larger role in preventing obesity.

“It’s one of those issues where everyone believes this is an epidemic, but it’s not getting the level of political and policymaker attention that it ought to,” said Levi.

Additionally, health officials say these rankings provide clear evidence that the nation has a public crisis on its hands, specifically with states such as Mississippi and Indiana either staying the same or getting worse. People who are overweight are at an increased risk for diabetes and heart problems, both of which are more prevalent in the African-American community.

Adds Levi, “As every candidate for president talks about health care reform and controlling health care costs, if we don’t hone in on the issue, none of their proposals are going to be affordable,” he said.

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