State to introduce plan for getting Hoosiers healthy

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Indianapolis - When it comes to healthy lifestyles, Indiana is not the place to be.

The Hoosier state ranks among the worst in the country and obesity is one of the most serious issues facing Hoosiers.

On Friday, the Indiana State Department of Health announced statewide partnerships in its campaign to reduce obesity in the state.

A recent national study ranks Indiana 14th for obesity with 30 percent of all Hoosiers significantly overweight. The same study found that more than half the population reports no significant physical activity for five or more days a week.

The state also ranks high in chronic conditions related to obesity, such as diabetes and high cholesterol. Experts say coronary disease remains the biggest cause of death in Indiana.

The medical concerns are so large that obesity is considered a threat to public health.

"It effects our productivity and out quality of life. If people are not healthy, we are not as productive as we should be, which has an economic impact as well. But the primary thing from my perspective would be to increase the quality of life so that people feel good, they feel healthy, they are able to function they would like to , they are able to get out to things they would like to and not have psychical limitations. That is due to being overweight or obese," Terry Zollinger, IU School of Medicine.

The costs are enormous.

The most recent study concluded that 10 years ago, obesity related illnesses were already costing the state $1.6 billion a year.

"Just among the medicaid population it is just a little over $500 million. In our day and age when we have such a tight economic budget, if we talked to our budget director and said we can find a way to save $500 million, I think he would get real excited about that. It is a tremendous impact as far as health care costs, but that doesn't count other costs as well. The cost of health insurance goes up, productivity goes down and that increases the cost of any goods and services we produce," Zollinger said.

Indiana is implementing a comprehensive plan to get Hoosiers in shape.  Much of it has to do with eating better and getting more exercise.

Right now Health officials say only 1 in 5 adults are eating recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables. Less than two-thirds are getting enough physical activity.

The state's goals include:

· Increase access to and consumption of healthy foods and beverages.

· Increase opportunities for and engagement in physical activity.

· Increase efforts aimed at enabling people to achieve and maintain a healthy weight across the lifespan.

· Reduce environmental and policy-related disparities for breastfeeding, nutrition, physical activity, overweight, obesity, and chronic disease.

· Increase the capacity of communities and settings within those communities (e.g., schools, worksites, faith-based organizations, etc.) to develop and sustain environmental and policy support systems that encourage healthy eating and active living.

· Increase state and local strategic partnerships to more effectively coordinate efforts, share resources, and identify and reach priority populations.

For more information on the Indiana Healthy Weight Initiative and to see a copy of Indiana's Comprehensive Nutrition and Physical Activity Plan, visit >a href=""To achieve these goals, the plan calls for a broad and diverse group of partners to work together," said Dr. Larkin. "Everyone has a role to play in making this a reality in our state."

Dr. Larkin added, "I applaud the Task Force for the great work its members have already accomplished in developing this plan. With its leadership, I have no doubt Indiana will continue to move in the right direction."

For more information on the Indiana Healthy Weight Initiative and to see a copy of Indiana's Comprehensive Nutrition and Physical Activity Plan, visit INHealthyWeight.