Study: Hoosiers are packing on the pounds faster than the average American

Topic: Miller College of Business

February 6, 2012

There are a third more overweight and obese Hoosiers than just two decades ago, says a new report from Ball State University.

"Burden of Obesity Among Adults in Indiana," compiled by Ball State's Global Health Institute (GHI), found that 66.5 percent of the adult population in Indiana is overweight or obese — or about 3.2 million people as measured by body mass index (BMI). The national average is about 64 percent.

This is an increase from 1991 when 50 percent of Hoosiers were overweight or obese and the national average was about 46 percent.

"This is a clear indication that two-thirds of our population may be at risk, and this is preventable," said Kerry Anne McGeary, GHI director and Phyllis A. Miller professor of health economics. "Obesity poses a major risk for serious diet-related chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and stroke, as well as certain forms of cancer. Obesity is listed as  the fifth largest cause of death.

"The economic ramifications of obesity are startling. In 2008, the total annual economic cost of obesity in the United States was estimated to be as high as $147 billion. An overweight or obese person in our country spends $1,500, or 41 percent, more each year on medical care than a person with a healthy weight."

The study also found:

  • About 73.4 percent of males report being overweight or obese compared to 59.5 percent of females.
  • About 69 percent of adults older than 65 report being overweight or obese as compared to 42.5 percent of adults ages 18 to 24.
  • Nearly 75 percent of black, non-Hispanic adults report being overweight or obese compared to 65.8 percent of white, non-Hispanic adults and 71 percent for Hispanic adults.
  • About 63.9 percent of adults with household incomes of $75,000 or more annually report being overweight or obese. The rate increases to 67.1 percent for households with incomes of $50,000 to $75,000; 69.6 percent of adults with household incomes of less than $15,000; and 71.2 percent of adults with household incomes of $15,000-$25,000.
  • Adults with a college education had the lowest level of obesity or being overweight (61.9 percent) as compared to adults without a high school degree (67 percent) or with a high school degree (69.3).

GHI also found that 10.5 percent of adults who report being overweight or obese also acknowledge having cardiovascular disease as compared to 6.4 percent of adults who are not overweight or obese but have cardiovascular problems.

McGeary points out that the state has started several programs, including INShape Indiana, to help reduce obesity rates and mitigate its growth.

"As a state, we've acknowledged that obesity is a problem that we cannot afford," she said. "It will be interesting to look at the trend over the next 10 years to see if Hoosiers are paying attention and changing their lifestyles."

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