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Anthem Blue Cross Tackles Childhood Obesity in California Through Free BMI Workshops for Pediatric and Family Medicine Health Care Providers
Date:4/8/2008

Anthem Blue Cross has invested over $7 million to date in its childhood

obesity initiative

WOODLAND HILLS, Calif., April 8, 2008 /PRNewswire/ -- In recognition of national Public Health Week, Anthem Blue Cross, in collaboration with the California Child Health Disability (CCHD) Program, is hosting three Body Mass Index (BMI) training and promotion workshops in Pasadena, San Jose, and Bakersfield, California, for pediatric nurses and medical assistants.

The workshops will provide training in BMI measurement, documentation and tracking, and are designed for clinical staff (registered nurses, licensed vocational nurses and medical assistants) in pediatric and family physician offices. The BMI program consists of in-person and online training, as well as a training CD.

"BMI is increasingly recognized as an important vital sign in determining a child's health," said Dr. Harvinder Sareen, director of clinical programs for Anthem Blue Cross. "We are offering cutting-edge training opportunities to facilitate the care provided by primary care practices. BMI is a valuable part of the early assessment and detection of childhood obesity, and these trainings enable practices to intervene early with healthy lifestyle counseling and help arrest the childhood obesity epidemic."

The American Medical Association recommends BMI screening as an important first step in preventing obesity. However, only six states in the nation currently mandate BMI screening for children.

To help address this gap, Anthem Blue Cross developed and implemented a statewide BMI training program in April of 2006, sponsoring 48 BMI workshops in California over the last two years that have reached close to 2,500 clinical staff. Anthem Blue Cross has also trained over 300 school nurses and health educators across the state. Over 83 percent of the program's participants reported a better understanding of how to use BMI to screen for childhood obesity. The successful program has also been replicated in Indiana and West Virginia, and will be launched later this year in other states, including Nevada.

These events are part of the $9 million commitment made by Anthem Blue Cross to fight childhood obesity in California. Since September 2005, Anthem Blue Cross has invested more than $7 million in this effort, developing several programs to equip physicians, empower Anthem Blue Cross members, and engage California families.

"All Californians are impacted by the rising rates of childhood obesity," said Dr. Sareen. "This growing epidemic requires creative solutions such as the successful public-private collaborations launched by Anthem Blue Cross."

In addition to the BMI program, other key public-private collaborations to facilitate healthier lifestyles and address childhood obesity include:
-- Partnering with the California Governor's Council on Physical Fitness

and Sports to promote better nutrition and physical activity among

youth in low-income communities;

-- And partnering with the Los Angeles Unified School District and the

University of California, Los Angeles, to evaluate the effectiveness of

fresh fruit and vegetable bars on children's nutrition and health.

"We are responding to the growing epidemic of childhood obesity in California," said Leslie Margolin, president of Anthem Blue Cross. "This problem needs to be seriously addressed in order to improve both cost and quality of care, not only for our members' children but for all of the children of this state. Anthem Blue Cross is taking measurable steps to do just that."

For more information about Anthem Blue Cross and its childhood obesity initiative, please call 1-866-638-1865 or send an email to ChildhoodObesity@wellpoint.com.

About Anthem Blue Cross:

Anthem Blue Cross is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and serves as the Blue Cross licensee for California. Anthem(R) is the registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. The Blue Cross(R) name and symbol are registered marks of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Additional information about Anthem Blue Cross in California is available at http://www.anthem.com/ca .


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SOURCE Anthem Blue Cross
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