INDIANAPOLIS — Are Hoosiers too fat?

A new report published by GlobalData found that the wide waists of two-thirds of all Hoosiers are negatively impacting the state and costing Indiana’s economy billions of dollars.

According to GlobalData’s report, 70% of Hoosiers are classified as overweight or obese. A revelation cited as a “significant public health challenge” in the Hoosier state due to only one-third of the population avoiding the added weight that negatively impacts one’s health and lifestyle.

But how exactly have obese and overweight Hoosiers reduced Indiana’s economic activity by a staggering $9.3 billion? In a variety of ways, according to the report, which studied the economic and workforce implications of obesity in Indiana.

For one, the study found that nearly 70,000 Hoosiers are not in the workforce due to obesity, including 58,000 additional unemployed adults and 11,400 fewer adults due to “premature deaths.” Of those 58,000 adults who attribute their unemployment to obesity, an additional 9,700 use state and local assistance programs which cost the state $27.7 million, the report said.

Obesity also raises health-related absenteeism and employee disability costs by $901 million annually, according to the report.

GlobalData found that employers in Indiana paid an extra $1.2 billion in higher medical expenditures for health complications attributed to obesity and overweight. State costs for Medicaid, public health assistance, and state government health insurance are also higher by $455 million.

Households with private insurance weren’t spared either as they incurred $712 million in higher costs.

Obese women were also found to earn 9% less than women with a healthy weight. In addition to women, the report found obesity disproportionately affects racial/ethnic minorities and those with lower education, worsening existing income and health disparities.

In summary, GobalData’s study found high levels of obese and overweight Hoosier workers and citizens led to higher public assistance costs, higher Medicaid costs, higher unemployment, reduced earnings, early mortality, higher medical premiums and healthcare costs, business tax loss, sales tax loss and foregone economic growth.

“As an organization dedicated to promoting health and well-being, we are deeply concerned about the staggering costs that obesity imposes on the people and economy of Indiana,” said Jennifer Pferrer, executive director of the Wellness Council of Indiana. “Addressing obesity is not only crucial for the well-being of our residents but also for the sustainability and prosperity of our state.”

GlobalData’s report found that Indiana could save between $8 billion to $20 billion in medical savings over the next 10 years if non-Medicare adult Hoosiers can achieve 5%-25% weight loss.

“GlobalData’s report serves as a wakeup call to address the obesity crisis head-on, with the potential to alleviate the economic burden on Indiana and foster a healthier and more prosperous future for its residents and employers,” GlobalData concluded.

 GlobalData Plc cites itself as a leading data and analytics company. The study on obesity and overweight in Indiana was supported by Eli Lilly and Company.

Read the full findings by clicking here.