A new report from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index ranked Indiana as the eighth most obese state in the US. That puts Indiana four spots higher than the previous year’s ranking. 31.4% of Hoosiers were reported as obese last year, up from 29.9% the year before. The study utilized phone surveys of 176,000 adults across the US. Respondents were asked about their height and weight, which were used to calculate Body Mass Index, or BMI. Americans with a BMI of 30 or higher are classified as obese. BMI is only determined by height and weight, and does not measure other factors like muscle or bone mass. Individuals with higher-than-average muscle mass, for example, could still be classified overweight or obese. Because of these limitations, the CDC’s website advises medical practitioners to use BMI for general screening, and not diagnosis.
High BMI is correlated to increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other obesity-related illnesses. Another caveat to these results is the nature of phone surveys. Respondents could skew the results by over- or under-reporting height or weight. This data follows a February report that put Indiana 48th in the nation for general well-being. Gallup’s researchers stated that high rates of obesity are linked to low levels of well-being. Overall, obesity is on the rise across the country, according to the study. The national obesity rate increased from 27.1% to 27.7% in the same time period. The state ranking highest was Mississippi, with 35% of its population reported as obese, Hawaii was the least obese at 19%.