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INDIANAPOLIS---State Health Commissioner Judy Monroe, M.D. today announced the Indiana State Department of Health will convene high-school aged young people in spring 2008 to focus on health issues facing Hoosier youth and involve them in a discussion on how to prevent unhealthy behaviors. She was joined by First Lady Cheri Daniels and Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Suellen Reed.
“Indiana is dedicated to protecting the health of its young people, who represent the future of this state,” said Mrs. Daniels. “Adopting healthier behaviors early in life is essential. For example, eating well, getting regular exercise, and avoiding tobacco are important in preventing heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other health problems later in life.”
According to the 2007 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, Indiana has seen some positive changes in the habits of young people in recent years, but other data show youth are engaging in behaviors that could result in injury or illness. The Youth Risk Behavior Survey monitors health risks and behaviors among Indiana youth in grades 9 through 12 in six categories: alcohol and other drug use, nutrition and weight, physical activity, sexual behavior, tobacco use, and violence and injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) these health risks and behaviors are related to the leading causes of death and illness among both youth and adults.
Highlights from the 2007 YRBS data include:
“Based on data from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, we can see the need to bring young people together to start a dialogue on the leadership role they can play in addressing negative health behaviors,” said Dr. Monroe. “We’ve had great success with hosting health forums for adults to address issues like obesity, health disparities, pandemic influenza, and tobacco. We plan to use these events as models for reaching out to youth. We want to make it possible for youth to voice their opinions and share their experiences in regard to health issues and behaviors impacting Hoosier adolescents.”
Dr. Reed spoke about the partnership between the Department of Education and the State Department of Health in addressing the health of Indiana’s youth. For example, the Coordinated School Health Program model incorporates eight interactive components to improve children's health and remove barriers to learning. The components include: comprehensive school health education; physical education; school health services; nutrition services; counseling, psychological and social services; healthy school environment; school-site health promotion for staff; and family and community involvement.
“Schools have a key role in teaching our young people about the importance of healthy behaviors, like eating more fruits and vegetables, being active, and avoiding drugs, alcohol and tobacco,” said Dr. Reed. “The Department of Education, through the Coordinated School Health Program, is committed to empowering teens to promote healthy behaviors and improve the quality of life for their peers, their communities and themselves.”
Representatives of the Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St. Vincent and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana were on hand to highlight the services they provide for Indiana youth and show support for bringing together young people to discuss health issues in 2008.
“Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St. Vincent is in full support of convening Indiana youth to discuss health and will remain focused on educating and providing comprehensive childhood obesity, tobacco prevention and mental health programs for the pediatric population in Indiana,” said Joanne Hilden, MD, vice president of Medical Affairs. “Our hope is to involve Indiana’s youth, so we as a team can prevent serious illnesses, injuries, and deaths.
“Having positive adult role models is essential to helping young people avoid risky behaviors,” said Tonja Eagan, CEO, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana. “We believe bringing Indiana youth together to talk about health will provide a unique opportunity for us to learn from our young people how we can better support their development into caring, competent and confident adults.”
Indiana University professor Lloyd Kolbe, Ph.D. attended the event to represent the Indiana Coalition to Improve Adolescent Health. The Coalition comprises individuals and representatives from more than 25 agencies and organizations serving youth in a variety of capacities who share the common goal of improving the health of Hoosier adolescents and emerging adults (ages 10-24). Since its inception in October 2006, the Coalition has been working to develop the state’s first adolescent health plan.
“The 2007 Indiana YRBS data will be vital to better understand more than half the priority problems addressed by Indiana’s strategic adolescent health plan,” said Indiana University professor Lloyd Kolbe, Ph.D, Coalition Planning Committee member. “The Coalition supports engaging young people in helping develop the plan and find solutions for their own needs.”
In the spring of 2007, the Indiana State Department of Health administered the Youth Risk Behavior Survey in high schools across the state. Forty-four high schools and 2,331 students participated. The Youth Risk Behavior Survey is a national survey effort led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to monitor students’ health risks and behaviors. This is the third year weighted data has been available for Indiana, which means that the response rates for the survey were high enough to allow the data collected to be generalized for all Indiana high school students. Weighted data was available for the first time in 2003, allowing the state to have trend data this year.
Results from the 2007 Indiana Youth Risk Behavior Survey can be viewed on the Indiana State Department of Health’s Web site at www.in.gov/yrbs..