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Elisabeth Andrews
IU Media Relations

Last modified: Friday, May 4, 2007

Confronting Indiana drug use, perceptions of obesity

May 4, 2007

EDITORS: the Indiana Public Health Association will hold its annual conference at the Indiana Memorial Union at Indiana University, Bloominton May 8-9. The event will feature research presentations from various public and private institutions on topics ranging from the use of technology in monitoring infectious disease to why sex ed teachers are neglecting state-mandated subjects. Also, a keynote address will be given by the president of the American Public Health Association, Debbie Klein Walker. Two presentations by Indiana University researchers are described below. For a full program agenda, go to

Confronting drug use in Indiana. A comprehensive study of drug use and its consequences in Indiana, completed last year, revealed state rates above the national average for DUI arrests, public intoxication, marijuana-related arrests and high school methamphetamine use. Lead researcher Eric Wright, director of the Center for Health Policy at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, will discuss these and other findings and how they are being addressed across the state. In particular, the study identified counties with the highest rates of abuse for alcohol, cocaine and methamphetamine. This information is now being utilized by the Governor's Commission for a Drug Free Indiana and the Meth-Free Indiana Coalition to direct funding to the areas of greatest need.

Wright will present his findings on May 9 at 3 p.m. in the IMU Oak Room. The full report is available online at

I'm not overweight. An Indiana University study found that the perception of "overweight" differs greatly by gender, race, ethnicity and education level. "Many overweight individuals do not perceive themselves to be overweight. Consequently, they will not be receptive to weight control programs, such as INShape Indiana," said Terrell W. Zollinger, professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine. "First, they need to accept the fact that they're overweight and need to change their diets and physical activity levels to improve their health and reduce their risk for diseases." The study drew from survey responses of 4,785 English and Spanish-speaking adults residing in Marion County, Ind. Zollinger said effective strategies to combat obesity will recognize these differences and tailor the messages accordingly.

Below are some of the findings:

  • Among overweight or obese males, more than two-thirds of the Hispanic males perceived themselves as normal weight (70.4 percent), followed by black males at 64.8 percent and white males at 50.5 percent.
  • Women who were overweight were more likely to acknowledge their weight status compared to men. Among overweight or obese females, nearly one-third of black females perceived themselves as normal weight (31.9 percent), followed by white females at 15.2 percent and Hispanic females at 7.7 percent.
  • Also of concern was the finding that 19 percent of the white women who were normal weight thought that they were overweight.

Finding from this study will be presented on May 9 at 10 a.m. in the IMU Walnut room. Zollinger can be reached at 317-278-0300 or

For more information, contact Elisabeth Andrews, 812-855-2153 or