Indiana's Obesity Rate Remains Worse Than Other States

Sep 8, 2017

More than 32 percent of Hoosiers are obese according to the latest assessment in the so-called State of Obesity Report.

The annual report from the Trust for America’s Health and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ranks Indiana 10th worst in the country for obesity. It was 15th last year.

Julie Burns is CEO of Jump IN, an organization that works to reduce childhood obesity in central Indiana. She says it’s hard to tell why the state got worse.

“What we don’t really know is did others just get that much better than us because we sort of have this flat trend,” Burns says.

Indiana’s childhood obesity rate has remained steady for the past decade, around 14 percent.

New this year: the study looks at how policies in Indiana like nutrition and physical fitness standards can help reduce rates. Burns says her group works with schools and early education centers for the greatest impact.

“They have the flexibility to adjust their practices and policies then you still have a lot of opportunity,” she says.

The report also assesses the rates of obesity related conditions like diabetes. More than 500,000 Hoosiers live with that disease. Burns says Jump IN was formed to prevent chronic illness.

“That is what will happen, we’ve already changed the mortality rate, it’s seven years less for this younger generation,” she says.

Burns says part of the problem is that people want a silver bullet.

“And it just doesn’t work that way and so what you really have to look at as an individual is how do you look at good nutrition and physical activity,” says Burns.

Burns says Indiana children have high rates of diabetes and hypertension and that leads to shorter lives.

“That is what will happen, we’ve already changed the mortality rate, it’s seven years less for this younger generation,” she says.