Obesity rate climbing in Indiana, new study says

Obesity has increased dramatically in Indiana during the past two decades, a scourge that is now costing the state $8.5 billion a year, a new study says.

More than one in three Hoosiers—34 percent—is obese, up from 20 percent in 1995, making Indiana the 12th highest state in the nation for obesity per capita, according to a report released Thursday morning by the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation.

In Marion County, 39 percent of residents are obese, the 11th highest rate among large U.S. cities.

Obesity is defined as weight that is higher than what is considered healthy for a given height, and is often screened through body mass index, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A body mass index of 30 or higher is considered obese.

According to the Fairbanks study, obesity is often caused by poor diet and lack of physical activity. In Indiana, 89 percent of adults do not consume the recommended number of fruits and 91 percent do not consume the recommended number of vegetables. More than 80 percent of Indiana adults do not get enough physical activity.

Obesity increases the risk of serious health consequences, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and certain types of cancer.

The Fairbanks study said obesity carries a high cost: $3.9 billion a year in labor market losses due to increased absenteeism and lower work productivity; $2.9 billion in excess health care costs; and $1.7 billion in lost economic output resulting from premature mortality.

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