Weight loss tips from Dr. Sears (copy)

Indiana is the 10th fattest state, according to a report from WalletHub.

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Indiana is the 10th most overweight state, according to a study by the website WalletHub.

In the report, the state ranked eighth in health consequences, 15th in overweight and obesity prevalence, and 16th in food and fitness.

"We're facing an epidemic," said Dr. James Siatras, director of bariatric surgery at Methodist Hospitals.

He noted that about a third of American adults are now considered obese, costing the U.S. health care system hundreds of billions of dollars a year for obesity-related complications.

Those complications can include heart disease, bone and joint problems, sleep apnea and type 2 diabetes.

"The biggest medical problem related to obesity in the United States, if not worldwide, is diabetes," said Dr. Gerald Cahill, a bariatric surgeon with Franciscan Alliance. "It affects every organ. You see patients becoming diabetic at an alarmingly young age because of weight issues."

According to the report, the estimated cost of diabetes in the U.S. is $407.6 billion annually, including $312.2 billion in direct medical costs. Diabetes-related care costs patients $7,900 annually and increases their yearly health care spending by 2.3 times. Diabetes is the third most deadly disease in America.

Siatras also noted that obese women are at a heightened risk for breast, colon and uterine cancer, while obese men have an increased chance of developing colon and prostate cancer. There also are psychological social impacts, he noted: Obese people tend to have lower-paying jobs and fewer social relationships.

While some people are genetically predisposed to obesity, he said, the condition generally can be prevented through eating a healthy diet and staying physically active. For people who are obese, he said, bariatric surgery is an effective treatment option.

At the societal level, Dr. Paul Stanish, surgical director of the Healthy 4 Life bariatric center at Community Healthcare System, said the state and nation as a whole must increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

"It would be helpful if we could find ways to make quality food more available and less expensive," he said.

That would include solving the problem of food deserts, impoverished areas where fruits and vegetables are hard to come by, he said.

"As a society, we've got to make some big changes here," he said. "I've seen some improvements with the foodie movement, where people are getting back into whole, homemade foods. That doesn't help people who don't have the financial wherewithal to access those types of foods. But there is a movement and things are changing."

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Giles is the health reporter for The Times, covering the business of health care as well as consumer and public health. He previously wrote about health for the Lawrence (Kansas) Journal-World. He is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.