CHICAGO -- YMCAs across the country have increased programs to address weight gain and obesity among youth and adults, according to a report by the YMCA of the USA, which studied changes in programming from 2005 to 2006.

Researchers found a 50 percent increase in Ys that offered child obesity programs, and 70 percent more Ys provided adult obesity programming in 2006 than in 2005. Ys that offered nutritional programs increased almost 30 percent, to 700 of the total 2,663 Ys in the country, over the same two-year period, while Ys offering weight management programs--a combination of nutrition, physical activity and family education/involvement--jumped 165 percent, to 566.

Also, programs reached beyond the walls of the Ys with an increase of 30 percent of involvement with community health and well-being coalitions.

"For nearly 160 years, America’s YMCAs have been meeting the most pressing challenges of the communities we serve," says Neil Nicoll, YMCA of the USA president and chief executive officer. "'Activate America' is the YMCA’s bold approach to directly address the nation’s growing health crisis by engaging communities across the country to support people of all ages in their pursuit of well-being in spirit, mind and body. YMCAs are uniquely positioned to help bring positive change, not just to individuals and families, but also on a larger scale to school districts, neighborhoods and entire cities."

Ys had an overall membership of 20.2 million in 2006. Half of all Y members are under the age of 18, 15 percent are between 18 and 29 years old, almost 30 percent are between 30 and 54 years old, and 11 percent are age 55 and older.

Ys also provided childcare to more than 500,000 children through nearly 10,000 Y-operated childcare sites across the country. More than 900 Ys offered family-centered programs, from family nights to parenting classes.

The Ys’ contributed income hit $933 million for 2006, or 16.6 percent of combined total Y funding in 2006.

The YMCA of the USA’s annual statistics were tallied from the responses of 2,476 YMCAs to a questionnaire on 2006 programs and operations collected in the first quarter of 2007.

Top YMCA Programs in 2006

  • Day Camp
  • Character development
  • Youth basketball
  • Aerobic group exercise
  • Strength training
  • School-age childcare