Research, Data, & Reports

The Obesity Epidemic in Marion County and Indiana

Publication date: 
March, 2019
Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation

Report shows environmental factors have driven growth in Indiana’s obesity rates and recommends collective action to address the health epidemic.

One in three Hoosier adults is obese, and more than two in three are overweight or obese, costing Indiana an estimated $8.5 billion in 2017. A report by the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation shows that obesity has increased dramatically in Marion County and Indiana, becoming one of the most significant preventable causes of morbidity and mortality.

Obesity is caused by poor diet and lack of physical activity, behavior patterns which are driven largely by the environments where people live, work, learn and play. They are often compounded by factors such as income, employment, education, gender, and race and ethnicity, all of which can profoundly affect individuals’ behaviors and health outcomes.

The report identifies proven approaches to addressing obesity and finds that the most effective interventions address both physical activity and nutrition, including food and beverage consumption.

Along with tobacco and opioid addiction, obesity is one of the most significant health challenges facing Indiana. Reversing course is possible but requires stakeholders across all sectors -- from healthcare systems to employers, K-12 schools, policymakers, and other community organizations -- to work together to solve this pressing challenge.

To download the full report and see recommended actions by sector, please visit