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Blue Cross Launches Statewide Healthy Eating Campaign to Double Number of Minnesotans Eating Fruits, Veggies
Date:11/6/2008

First-of-its kind effort tackles unhealthy eating to improve health, reduce

health care costs

EAGAN, Minn., Nov. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (Blue Cross) is launching a statewide healthy eating campaign to improve Minnesotans' health and double the percentage of people who eat five or more fruits and vegetable servings each day. Currently more than 80 percent of Minnesotans fail to get the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables putting them at risk for serious health problems including heart disease, cancer, obesity, and diabetes.

Research shows that eating more fruits and vegetables has multiple health benefits -- it protects against heart disease and cancer, helps control diabetes and weight, lowers cholesterol and blood pressure, and reduces the likelihood of heart attack or stroke.

"Our campaign is designed to bring attention to the benefits of healthy eating and make it easier to eat the way we know we should," said Dr. Marc Manley, vice president and medical director for population health at Blue Cross. "This is crucial work because approximately two-thirds of adult Minnesotans are overweight or obese, and changing our eating habits is a significant step we can take to improve health and lower health care costs."

The benefits of this healthy eating work will translate into healthier Minnesotans and will help save health care dollars for everyone. According to a report on obesity issued by Blue Cross and the Minnesota Department of Health earlier this year, if trends continue unchecked, obesity will add nearly $1 billion to Minnesota's total health care costs by 2010, and $3.7 billion by 2020. More importantly, thousands of lives will be lost or negatively impacted by devastating diseases like heart disease and cancer. "Obesity is a multi-billion dollar problem for Minnesota -- every step we take to reduce those costs and improve health means saving lives and money," said Manley. "In fact, a recent Trust for America's Health report showed that investing in community prevention can return nearly $6 for every $1 spent."

The healthy eating work will feature a comprehensive approach to increasing fruit and vegetable consumption. An important part of this new work is a media campaign called "Every Helping Helps" which promotes the life-saving properties of fruits and vegetables.

"The theme "Every Helping Helps" reflects research that shows increasing fruits and vegetables consumption, even a little bit, can have big health payoffs," noted Manley. The campaign debuts on Monday, November 10 on TV, billboards, and mass transit, and will expand to grocery stores beginning in December.

Blue Cross is also undertaking projects in worksites and across communities to improve access and availability to healthy foods. Worksite projects focus on improving company policies, like cafeteria and vending machine offerings, so it's easier for employees to select healthy options. Other work will soon begin as Blue Cross is awarding eight "Healthy Eating Minnesota" contracts to communities to support a wide range of healthy eating strategies. For example, the Dakota County Public Health Department will work with Blue Cross to assess and improve healthy food policies in five schools districts reaching approximately 31,000 staff and students. "We think Blue Cross is on the right track by addressing healthy eating as a way to prevent diseases like heart disease and cancer. We're very excited to work with several school districts and other partners in our county to strengthen policies and make changes that will help people eat more fruits and vegetables," said Mary Montagne, Public Health Supervisor, Dakota County Public Health Department.

"Minnesotans know they should be eating their fruits and vegetables, but knowing and doing are two different things," said Mary Story, PhD, RD, professor at the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health. "Blue Cross' comprehensive approach is smart and their Every Helping Helps campaign will help connect the dots between what we eat and serious health problems."

The healthy eating work is part of Blue Cross' Prevention Minnesota initiative and is funded by settlement proceeds from Blue Cross' historic lawsuit against the tobacco companies. Healthy eating represents the third strategy for tackling the most preventable diseases and joins Blue Cross' other statewide prevention work in reducing tobacco use and increasing physical activity. For more information about Blue Cross' healthy eating work, visit Prevention Minnesota at http://www.bluecrossmn.com/preventionminnesota or http://www.everyhelpinghelps.com.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, with headquarters in the St. Paul suburb of Eagan, was chartered in 1933 as Minnesota's first health plan and continues to carry out its charter mission today: to promote a wider, more economical and timely availability of health services for the people of Minnesota. A nonprofit, taxable organization, Blue Cross is the largest health plan based in Minnesota, covering 2.9 million members in Minnesota and nationally through its health plans or plans administered by its affiliated companies. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, headquartered in Chicago. Go to http://www.bluecrossmn.com to learn more about Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota.


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SOURCE Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota
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