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Bill Clinton, Health Groups to Tackle Childhood Obesity
Date:2/19/2009

Public, private coalition hopes to meet weight-linked healthcare needs of 6.2 million kids

THURSDAY, Feb. 19 (HealthDay News) -- In what they called a "landmark agreement," former President Bill Clinton and the American Heart Association announced Thursday the launch of a national initiative on childhood obesity, aimed at getting up to 6 million American kids covered for routine visits to both primary care physicians and dietitians.

"I think we want the children of America to know, No. 1, that we want them to be healthy, we want them to grow up healthy, and we want them to start now," Clinton told reporters at his foundation's headquarters in New York City.

The new collaboration, which Clinton called "a really big deal," links medical organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Dietetic Association with insurance companies such as Aetna, WellPoint, Blue Cross of North Carolina and of Massachusetts and private companies like PepsiCo, Owens Corning and Paychex. This, Clinton said, is "the first time our three stakeholders have come together to tackle childhood obesity in a comprehensive way."

The current initiative aims to address the obesity-related healthcare needs of almost 1 million children in the program's first year, by reimbursing doctors and registered dietitians for providing health care and in-depth nutritional counseling to kids on an ongoing basis. In addition, participating companies will offer their employees access to the initiative's benefits. The new alliance will also offer parents educational and nutritional information on tackling childhood obesity.

The planned coverage is set to ratchet up to approximately 6.2 million children (25 percent of all overweight American children) by the end of three years.

Observing that millions of American families simply don't know where to turn for help on their child's weight issues -- or just can't afford the h
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