Give Now  »

wfiu logo
WFIU Public Radio

wtiu logo
WTIU Public Television

Choose which station to support!

Indiana Public Media | WFIU - NPR | WTIU - PBS

News Contact IPM News Indiana Public Media News

{ "banners": { "tv" : [ {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WTIUMCBNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=2T6mTyo6yYuMn%2bAFYFwp%2bq1gzMC6uhq5nDjkJobrCdg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/2-28-countrymusic_webbanner.jpg", "startingDate" : "1582866000000", "endingDate" : "1582952340000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WTIUMCBNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=2T6mTyo6yYuMn%2bAFYFwp%2bq1gzMC6uhq5nDjkJobrCdg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/2-29-doowop_glencampbell_webbanner.jpg", "startingDate" : "1582952400000", "endingDate" : "1583038740000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WTIUMCBNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=2T6mTyo6yYuMn%2bAFYFwp%2bq1gzMC6uhq5nDjkJobrCdg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/3-01-celticwoman_webbanner.jpg", "startingDate" : "1583038800000", "endingDate" : "1583125140000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WTIUMCBNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=2T6mTyo6yYuMn%2bAFYFwp%2bq1gzMC6uhq5nDjkJobrCdg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/3-02-and-3-13-suzeorman_webbanner.jpg", "startingDate" : "1583125200000", "endingDate" : "1583211540000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WTIUMCBNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=2T6mTyo6yYuMn%2bAFYFwp%2bq1gzMC6uhq5nDjkJobrCdg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/3-03-erniepyle_webbanner.jpg", "startingDate" : "1583211600000", "endingDate" : "1583297940000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WTIUMCBNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=2T6mTyo6yYuMn%2bAFYFwp%2bq1gzMC6uhq5nDjkJobrCdg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/3-04-michaelbuble_webbanner.jpg", "startingDate" : "1583298000000", "endingDate" : "1583384340000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WTIUMCBNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=2T6mTyo6yYuMn%2bAFYFwp%2bq1gzMC6uhq5nDjkJobrCdg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/3-05-brainfitness_webbanner.jpg", "startingDate" : "1583384400000", "endingDate" : "1583470740000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WTIUMCBNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=2T6mTyo6yYuMn%2bAFYFwp%2bq1gzMC6uhq5nDjkJobrCdg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/3-06-riseup_webbanner.jpg", "startingDate" : "1583470800000", "endingDate" : "1583557140000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WTIUMCBNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=2T6mTyo6yYuMn%2bAFYFwp%2bq1gzMC6uhq5nDjkJobrCdg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/3-07-pinkfloyd_webbanner.jpg", "startingDate" : "1583557200000", "endingDate" : "1583643540000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WTIUMCBNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=2T6mTyo6yYuMn%2bAFYFwp%2bq1gzMC6uhq5nDjkJobrCdg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/3-08-juliachild_webbanner.jpg", "startingDate" : "1583643600000", "endingDate" : "1583726340000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WTIUMCBNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=2T6mTyo6yYuMn%2bAFYFwp%2bq1gzMC6uhq5nDjkJobrCdg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/3-09-joebonamassa_webbanner.jpg", "startingDate" : "1583726400000", "endingDate" : "1583812740000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WTIUMCBNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=2T6mTyo6yYuMn%2bAFYFwp%2bq1gzMC6uhq5nDjkJobrCdg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/3-10-britfloyd_webbanner.jpg", "startingDate" : "1583812800000", "endingDate" : "1583899140000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WTIUMCBNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=2T6mTyo6yYuMn%2bAFYFwp%2bq1gzMC6uhq5nDjkJobrCdg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/3-11-hallandoates_webbanner.jpg", "startingDate" : "1583899200000", "endingDate" : "1583985540000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WTIUMCBNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=2T6mTyo6yYuMn%2bAFYFwp%2bq1gzMC6uhq5nDjkJobrCdg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/3-12-agingbackwards_webbanner.jpg", "startingDate" : "1583985600000", "endingDate" : "1584071940000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WTIUMCBNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=2T6mTyo6yYuMn%2bAFYFwp%2bq1gzMC6uhq5nDjkJobrCdg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/3-02-and-3-13-suzeorman_webbanner.jpg", "startingDate" : "1584072000000", "endingDate" : "1584158340000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WTIUMCBNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=2T6mTyo6yYuMn%2bAFYFwp%2bq1gzMC6uhq5nDjkJobrCdg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/3-14-changeyourbrain_webbanner.jpg", "startingDate" : "1584158400000", "endingDate" : "1584331140000"} ], "radio" : [ {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WFIUCHALBN&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=HrWnk%2fLUFYkZ0HVnlXFne71YhDw50SikSh2nq0qouhg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/iu-bicentennial-banner.jpg", "startingDate" : "1579124100000", "endingDate" : "1579582740000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WFIUFDBNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=tAXekcDG%2flgkr2wNtsqwhq1gzMC6uhq5nDjkJobrCdg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/wfiu_springfunddrive_newsphoto_2020_webbanner_1920x240.jpg", "startingDate" : "1585044000000", "endingDate" : "1587787140000"} ] }}
{ "lightboxes": { "tv" : [ {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WTIUMCLB&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=2T6mTyo6yYtDgsQprWuZNm3L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/2-28-countrymusic-lightbox.jpg", "startingDate" : "1582866000000", "endingDate" : "1582952340000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WTIUMCLB&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=2T6mTyo6yYtDgsQprWuZNm3L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/2-29-doowop_glencampbell-lightbox.jpg", "startingDate" : "${child.textValue}", "endingDate" : "${child.textValue}"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WTIUMCLB&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=2T6mTyo6yYtDgsQprWuZNm3L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/3-1-celticwoman-lightbox.jpg", "startingDate" : "${child.textValue}", "endingDate" : "${child.textValue}"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WTIUMCLB&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=2T6mTyo6yYtDgsQprWuZNm3L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/3-2-and-3-13-suzeorman-lightbox.jpg", "startingDate" : "1583125200000", "endingDate" : "1583211540000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WTIUMCLB&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=2T6mTyo6yYtDgsQprWuZNm3L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/3-3-erniepyle-lightbox.jpg", "startingDate" : "1583211600000", "endingDate" : "1583297940000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WTIUMCLB&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=2T6mTyo6yYtDgsQprWuZNm3L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/3-4-michaelbuble_lightbox.jpg", "startingDate" : "1583298000000", "endingDate" : "1583384340000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WTIUMCLB&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=2T6mTyo6yYtDgsQprWuZNm3L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/3-5-brainfitness-lightbox.jpg", "startingDate" : "1583384400000", "endingDate" : "1583470740000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WTIUMCLB&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=2T6mTyo6yYtDgsQprWuZNm3L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/3-6-riseup-lightbox.jpg", "startingDate" : "1583470800000", "endingDate" : "1583557140000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WTIUMCLB&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=2T6mTyo6yYtDgsQprWuZNm3L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/3-7-pinkfloyd-lightbox.jpg", "startingDate" : "1583557200000", "endingDate" : "1583643540000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WTIUMCLB&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=2T6mTyo6yYtDgsQprWuZNm3L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/3-8-juliachild-lightbox.jpg", "startingDate" : "1583643600000", "endingDate" : "1583726340000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WTIUMCLB&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=2T6mTyo6yYtDgsQprWuZNm3L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/3-9-joebonamassa_lightbox.jpg", "startingDate" : "1583726400000", "endingDate" : "1583812740000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WTIUMCLB&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=2T6mTyo6yYtDgsQprWuZNm3L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/3-10-britfloyd-lightbox.jpg", "startingDate" : "1583812800000", "endingDate" : "1583899140000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WTIUMCLB&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=2T6mTyo6yYtDgsQprWuZNm3L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/3-11-hallandoates_lightbox.jpg", "startingDate" : "1583899200000", "endingDate" : "1583985540000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WTIUMCLB&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=2T6mTyo6yYtDgsQprWuZNm3L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/3-12-agingbackwards-lightbox.jpg", "startingDate" : "1583985600000", "endingDate" : "1584071940000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WTIUMCLB&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=2T6mTyo6yYtDgsQprWuZNm3L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/3-2-and-3-13-suzeorman-lightbox.jpg", "startingDate" : "1584072000000", "endingDate" : "1584158340000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WTIUMCLB&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=2T6mTyo6yYtDgsQprWuZNm3L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/3-14-changeyourbrain-lightbox.jpg", "startingDate" : "1584158400000", "endingDate" : "1584331140000"} ], "radio" : [ {"url" : " https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WFIUFDLB&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=tAXekcDG%2flizvLEFSbjC6m3L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/wfiu_springfunddrive_newsphoto_2020_lightbox_720x480.jpg", "startingDate" : "1585044000000", "endingDate" : "1585108740000"} , {"url" : " https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WFIUFDLB&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=tAXekcDG%2flizvLEFSbjC6m3L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/wfiu_springfunddrive_newsphoto_2020_lightbox_720x480.jpg", "startingDate" : "1585303200000", "endingDate" : "1585367940000"} , {"url" : " https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WFIUFDLB&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=tAXekcDG%2flizvLEFSbjC6m3L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/wfiu_springfunddrive_newsphoto_2020_lightbox_720x480.jpg", "startingDate" : "1585562400000", "endingDate" : "1585627140000"} ] }}
{ "item" : [ {"label" : "t", "mp3" : "as", "startingDate" : "1568692800000", "endingDate" : "1569124800000"} , {"label" : "h", "mp3" : "k", "startingDate" : "1568001600000", "endingDate" : "1568433600000"} ] }

Increased Obesity Rates In Rural Indiana Communities Tied To Numerous Factors

Mark completes a series of workouts before departing to Bloomington for work. (Brock Turner, WFIU/WTIU News)

Data shows more than one in three Hoosiers are obese, and it’s getting worse. Experts say  minority and rural populations are especially susceptible.

Currently, adults in rural communities are 19 percent more likely to be obese than those living in metro areas. 

Mark Hobbs used to be one of them. 

At 40, doctors informed him he had developed blood clots in his lungs. It was a scary diagnosis that carries a high mortality rate. After a stay in the hospital doctors sent him home to recover, but it didn’t go as planned. In the weeks that followed, he struggled to do small tasks and wasn’t improving as expected.

For Mark the event was a wakeup call. He didn’t want this to be his new normal.

“I was just pretty bad overweight, and I knew it,” he recalls. “ I was having issues with back trouble and knee problems.” He admits he, “just never really had the motivation or the know how to do what I needed to do.”

The diagnosis was the motivation he needed. Hobbs—who lives in the small town of Gosport between Spencer and Bloomington—made it a point to start moving and get healthier.  

Hobbs says, like many, weight loss was another task in an already busy schedule. “We had so much going on with, you know, the kids and after school stuff, and always constantly on the go and just never really made time for it,” he says. “When it comes down to a wakeup call, I had to make time.”

He took decisive steps to that included regular appointments with a dietician. Hobbs admits the sweet tea was the hardest item to give up, he says other changes were minor.

In addition to diet, he also made it a point to exercise regularly. Hobbs admits he’s lucky there was a YMCA offering a Diabetes Prevention Program not far from his home in Owen County. The program gave him the tools he needed, and helped kickstart his weight loss.

Limited Resources In Rural Communities Contribute To Rising Rates 

Darrell White, the CEO at the Owen County Family YMCA is also thankful for the program.

“We are still probably the smallest YMCA in the country that offers our Diabetes Prevention Program to our local citizens,” he says.

Given the local YMCA is one of the only other facilities in the county where people can workout, the facility pulls members from a large geographic area.

Laura Gentry is the Program / Community Wellness Director at the YMCA, and has spent years trying to help the local community get healthier. She believes folks in rural communities like these face extra challenges to get healthy. 

woman walking on indoor track
Gentry regurally interacts with patrons at the Owen County Family YMCA. (Brock Turner, WFIU/WTIU News)

“Most everybody here lives a distance from here where we don't just walk here. We have to put gas in our vehicles and drive here.” She asks, “Do we have public transportation?” We have rural transit, but they can only do so much,” she says. Owen County faces similar issues with medical care - many residents have to commute outside the county to see a doctor. There is no critical access hospital, so the half hour drive to Bloomington is routine for most.

Policymakers say this creates additional obstacles and diminishes the overall health of communities. That helps explain why rural areas struggle with issues tied to obesity like diabetes and heart disease.

Lindsey Bouza is the Director of the Indiana State Department of Health’s Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity.  

She says it’s the combination - access to healthier food, healthcare, and travel times – that all contribute to rural obesity. 

“These will always be challenges,” she admits.  

Bouza says the state hopes to begin helping communities to start “capitalizing on the resources that they do have,” she says. “A lot of people gather [at high schools] for football games, for example, basketball games, other band competitions, things like that. How can we capitalize on that making a school a community resource and utilizing map for physical activity?”

The State Department of Health and other partners are working together to send resources to communities that are predisposed to obesity and other health problems. In Owen County, much of the cost for programs like the diabetes prevention class Hobbs attends are subsidized. That’s something that helps individuals with lower incomes afford to access resources.

While the rural setting presents challenges, Gentry believes there are also opportunities.

Residents Overcome Challenges, One Step At A Time 

“When you come in here [to the YMCA], everybody knows you and everybody talks to you,” she says community formation is an important factor to weight loss because it helps motivate and hold individuals accountable. “On the other side of the coin, though, I can go out here and run 5 or 10 miles, and not meet a car out on some of the back roads.”

Hobbs agrees. He’s at the YMCA every morning by 5:30 to begin his work out. Today, his neighbor was also working out. He’s lost more than 100 pounds in the past year, and says he hopes drop another 50 or 60 more.

“If you can't make the drive on a regular basis at least, get with somebody that can show you,” he says everyday changes can make a big difference. “Minimal things you can change and, exercises you can do around the house or, even walking around the house or down the road you live on.”

Hobbs says he’s thankful for the guidance and support he’s received at the YMCA, and has hard time imagining where he’d be without the facility. “There are options,” he says. You know, me I needed help I needed the guidance to show me basically what I need to do.”

He says his journey has only just begun, but plans to continue his weight loss journey even if his ZIP code doesn’t help. 

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

Support For Indiana Public Media Comes From

Find Us on Facebook

Recent Health Stories