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The Blue Foundation for a Healthy Florida Announces $8 Million Initiative to Address Childhood Obesity
Date:5/13/2008

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., May 13 /PRNewswire/ -- The rate of childhood obesity in America has more than tripled since 1980(1), and, in Florida, 32.5 percent of children ages 10 to 17 are overweight or obese(2). Compelled by the serious and widespread threat of the obesity epidemic for children, families, communities and the health care system, The Blue Foundation for a Healthy Florida (http://www.bluefoundationfl.com), the philanthropic affiliate of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida (BCBSF), today announced a statewide initiative called Embrace a Healthy Florida.

The $8 million, four-year strategic effort will address the causes of childhood obesity through public-private partnerships. Embrace a Healthy Florida was announced during a convening of Jacksonville community nonprofit, nongovernmental agencies, governmental agencies, and leaders who are currently engaged in activities that address childhood obesity.

"We are taking action beyond traditional nutrition and fitness programs," said Susan Towler, executive director of The Blue Foundation for a Healthy Florida. "Through strategic philanthropy, Embrace a Healthy Florida will foster environments that promote healthy lifestyles for children."

The statewide initiative will support community-based programs that promote change in families and parenting, childcare centers and schools, neighborhood recreation opportunities and other influences on the accessibility of healthy food and physical activity. Focusing on Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, Tampa and Tallahassee regions, the three-phase effort will provide grants to nonprofit organizations, fund research, and foster community collaboration.

Along with numerous physical health risks, overweight and obese children are shown to suffer higher rates of depression, greater difficulty in peer relationships and poorer quality of life than their normal weight counterparts(3).

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SOURCE The Blue Foundation for a Healthy Florida
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