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Alliance for a Healthier Generation Expands Efforts to Combat Childhood Obesity with Launch of Landmark Healthcare Initiative
Date:2/19/2009

First Time Insurance Companies and Corporations Collaborate to Stop this Epidemic

Aetna, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, PepsiCo and WellPoint along with American Academy of Pediatrics and American Dietetic Association join with the Alliance to stop epidemic

NEW YORK, Feb. 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a joint initiative of the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation, announced the formation of the Alliance Healthcare Initiative, a collaborative effort with national medical associations, leading insurers and employers to offer comprehensive health benefits to children and families for the prevention, assessment, and treatment of childhood obesity.

This effort marks a major step forward in a holistic approach to reduce childhood obesity in the United States. The Alliance Healthcare Initiative will enable healthcare providers to be an active part of the solution to the obesity epidemic by providing children with primary care visits, and visits to registered dietitians as part of their health insurance benefits. Additionally, the Alliance Healthcare Initiative will educate parents about childhood obesity and the expansion of services available to their children as a result of this effort.

"Nearly one in three children in the U.S. is overweight or obese -- we are confronting a public health crisis," said former President Bill Clinton, founder of the William J. Clinton Foundation, who co-leads the Alliance with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and American Heart Association President, Tim Gardner. "If we teach people at an early age that eating healthy and moving more is important, an entire generation of Americans will live healthier and longer lives. I am grateful that our collaborators in the Alliance Healthcare Initiative understand that combating the childhood obesity epidemic is going to take a comprehensive approach to care. I hope that other employers and insurers follow the lead of these organizations."

This is the first time a group of organizations has worked together to ensure children get the insurance coverage they need to fight obesity and the first time outcomes will be monitored to ensure the benefits are being used. Through this program, doctors will be reimbursed for bringing children back for follow-up visits and for working with them on the adoption of healthy behaviors. Registered dietitians will also be reimbursed for providing in-depth nutrition counseling over multiple visits to those children that are referred by their doctors. By working together, doctors and registered dietitians will help children and their families adopt healthier lifestyle habits to improve their health and weight. Participating companies will have access to materials and resources developed by the Alliance to inform parents about childhood obesity prevention and treatment.

"The Alliance Healthcare Initiative represents a landmark agreement in the prevention and treatment of childhood obesity," said Timothy J. Gardner, M.D., FAHA, president of the American Heart Association, and medical director, The Center for Heart and Vascular Health at Christiana Care Health System (DE). "This program will allow children and their families for the first time to have access to these preventive medical services in most regions of the country. Looking forward, the Initiative represents a tremendous opportunity to bring the best science behind what is effective in the prevention and treatment of childhood obesity to those who are overweight, and therefore, in the greatest need. We know that effective prevention and reversal of obesity in childhood will lead to longer and healthier lives."

Several health insurance organizations are part of this ground-breaking effort, including Aetna, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts and WellPoint. Major corporations including, Houston Independent School District, Owens Corning and Paychex are participating as customers of Aetna. PepsiCo has also joined with the Alliance to offer these benefits. And, the William J. Clinton Foundation and American Heart Association will also offer these benefits to their employees. In addition, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Dietetic Association will collaborate with these organizations to help clinicians provide education, improve care coordination, offer resources to eligible families, and help with recruitment of medical professionals.

During the first year of this program, nearly one million children will have access to this benefit option. The long-term goal of the Alliance Healthcare Initiative is that within the first three years, 25 percent of all overweight children (approximately 6.2 million) will have access to this benefit.

The Alliance Healthcare Initiative will enable families to work in collaboration with their primary care physicians, registered dietitians and other healthcare professionals to achieve lifelong health. By helping children to work with their primary care physicians, insurers can facilitate the introduction of benefits designed to keep future healthcare costs low and improve the overall health and well being of children and families.

About the Alliance for a Healthier Generation

The William J. Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association joined forces in May of 2005 to create a healthier generation by addressing one of the nation's leading public health threats - childhood obesity. The goal of the Alliance is to reduce the nationwide prevalence of childhood obesity by 2015, and to empower kids nationwide to make healthy lifestyle choices. The Alliance works to positively affect the places that can make a difference to a child's health: homes, schools, restaurants, doctor's offices and communities. For more information please visit: www.HealthierGeneration.org.

Aetna

Aetna is one of the nation's leading diversified health care benefits companies, serving approximately 36.5 million people with information and resources to help them make better informed decisions about their health care. Aetna offers a broad range of traditional and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including medical, pharmacy, dental, behavioral health, group life and disability plans, and medical management capabilities and health care management services for Medicaid plans. Our customers include employer groups, individuals, college students, part-time and hourly workers, health plans, governmental units, government-sponsored plans, labor groups and expatriates. For more information, see www.aetna.com.

American Academy of Pediatrics

The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org.

American Dietetic Association

The American Dietetic Association is the world's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. ADA is committed to improving the nation's health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Visit the American Dietetic Association at www.eatright.org.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (BCBSMA)

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts was founded more than 70 years ago by a group of community-minded business leaders. Today, headquartered in Boston, BCBSMA provides coverage to more than 3 million members, 2.5 million in Massachusetts. BCBSMA believes in rewarding doctors and hospitals for delivering safe and effective care, and in empowering patients to take more responsibility, become educated health care consumers and become stronger partners with their doctors. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC)

BCBSNC is a leader in delivering innovative health care products, services and information to more than 3.7 million members, including approximately 900,000 served on behalf of other Blue Plans. For 75 years, the company has served its customers by offering health insurance at a competitive price and has served the people of North Carolina through support of community organizations, programs and events that promote good health. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Access BCBSNC online at www.bcbsnc.com.

PepsiCo

PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP) is one of the world's largest food and beverage companies, with 2008 annual revenues of more than $43 billion. The company operates in approximately 200 countries, and employs approximately 198,000 people worldwide. Its principal businesses include: Frito-Lay snacks, Pepsi-Cola beverages, Gatorade sports drinks, Tropicana juices and Quaker foods. PepsiCo's commitment to sustainable growth, defined as Performance with Purpose, is focused on sustaining shareholder value while still consistently giving back to communities the company serves. A major priority of this value framework, in addition to responsible environmental and talent management activity, is PepsiCo's commitment to playing a responsible role in health and wellness -- by educating people about how to adopt a healthy, active lifestyle and by offering a range of nutritious as well as delicious products. PepsiCo is listed on the Dow Jones World and North America Sustainability Index. For more information, please visit www.pepsico.com.

WellPoint, Inc.

WellPoint is committed to improving the lives and health of the people and communities we serve by simplifying the connection between health, care and value. Our goal is to help shape the impact each health care decision has on individuals, the health care system at-large, and our communities. WellPoint's more than 42,000 associates work every day to help create the best health care value for our customers. Through collaborations with providers and with innovative programs, WellPoint's affiliated health plans reward healthy lifestyles and quality, safe and effective care. As the nation's largest health benefits company, with more than 35 million members in its affiliated health plans, WellPoint is at the center of the health care system. This position provides us with the relationships and insights needed to help create affordable and actionable solutions that improve health care.

As an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, WellPoint serves members as the Blue Cross licensee for California; the Blue Cross and Blue Shield licensee for Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri (excluding 30 counties in the Kansas City area), Nevada, New Hampshire, New York (as the Blue Cross Blue Shield licensee in 10 New York City metropolitan and surrounding counties and as the Blue Cross or Blue Cross Blue Shield licensee in selected upstate counties only), Ohio, Virginia (excluding the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.), Wisconsin; and through UniCare. Additional information about WellPoint is available at www.wellpoint.com.


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SOURCE American Heart Association
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