Survey says a third of Indiana’s youth are overweight or obese

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. — A survey shows that more than a third of Indiana youth ages 10 to 17 are overweight or obese.

The National Survey of Children’s Health says the state has the ninth-highest youth obesity rate in the U.S.

The survey is conducted by the U.S. Maternal and Child Health Bureau and the U.S. Census Bureau. It calculates a child’s body mass index through parent reports of the child’s height and weight.

Health advocates have been concerned that youth are becoming inactive, choosing to engage with electronic devices instead of physical activity, The Journal Gazette reported.

Overweight youth are more likely to develop chronic health issues later in life, said Dr. Deborah McMahan, Allen County Health Commissioner.

“It is difficult to read that a third of our young people are struggling with what used to be a problem of middle age,” McMahan said.

McMahan said the community needs to promote eating for energy and health as well as provide opportunities to get active. She said it’s important to encourage change without inducing body shame.

Physical inactivity is a major cause of childhood obesity, said Wendy Spitznagel, the Community Wellness Director at the YMCA of Greater Fort Wayne.

The YMCA teamed up with Parkview Sports Medicine in August to create active after-school programs. “Active Science at the Y with Jaylon Smith” combines physical activity with science, technology, engineering and math learning concepts.

“With more than 1,500 students in our after-school programs, we have the opportunity to move the needle to engage youth and their families in an active lifestyle,” Spitznagel said.

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