Health should be priority for Hoosiers

(Bedford) Times-Mail

We’re fat. We smoke, and we refuse to exercise.

That might explain why, for the third straight year, the Hoosier state has been ranked as the 41st healthiest in the country, according to the 2014 edition of America’s Health Rankings.

Let’s take a look at some key health facts:

21.9 percent of Hoosier adults smoke.

15 percent of Hoosiers binge drink.

31.8 percent of Hoosiers are obese. This figure was 15 percent in 1990, 20 percent in 2000 and

31.4 percent last year.

14.1 percent of Indiana residents lack

health insurance.

In short, we’re addicted to the remote control. We certainly don’t exercise enough. (Indiana ranked 43rd in the percent of adults who are physically active.) And the icing on the cake is that we are eating larger portions and more processed foods filled with sugar and fat.

There is no magic pill or easy fix, or our

obesity rates wouldn’t keep climbing. Each of us is responsible for our own health. We must make the decision to adhere to a healthy diet and a regular exercise regimen.

But there was also good news amid the report.

Although the adult smoking rate remains high, it has decreased. In the past two years, smoking among Hoosier adults decreased by nearly 4 percent, dropping from 25.6 percent to 21.9 percent, lowering the smoking-prevalence ranking from 44th last year to 39th this year.

Indiana also fared well in other areas — earning a No. 13 ranking in the percentage of children living in poverty, a No. 14 ranking in the incidence of infectious diseases, and a No. 7 ranking in the percentage of adolescents (72.9) getting immunized.

Another positive trend in Indiana is that in the past year, preventable hospitalizations fell by

8 percent, from 76 to 70. And since 1990, cardiovascular deaths decreased by 35 percent, from 425 to 274 per 100,000 population.

Community-based efforts can help by offering a team approach to health. Walking and running clubs, weight-loss challenges and putting an emphasis on making communities more exercise-friendly are all steps in the right direction.

But this isn’t a governmental issue. It’s largely a personal issue we must address ourselves.

It’s obvious that Hoosiers must make health a priority. Good health should be considered one of the greatest human blessings we’ve been afforded. Maintaining that gift is imperative.

As the holidays pass and Hoosiers begin making resolutions for the New Year, we urge you to make a healthy diet, exercise and smoking cessation among your top priorities.

This was distributed by Hoosier State Press Association. Send

comments to