Tuesday, April 6, 2010

UnitedHealthcare has a new partner in fighting poor childhood nutrition: Elmo and Big Bird.

Over the past three decades, childhood obesity rates have tripled to nearly one in three children in America being overweight or obese. And a recent study by the Food Research and Action Center, found that more than one in five children in the U.S. have insufficient access to nutritional and affordable food today.

For some time now, UnitedHealthcare has wanted to get more active in the fight against poor childhood nutrition because it puts children at risk for obesity and a range of disorders in later life such as diabetes and heart problems.

Now we have a partner and it’s a biggie, Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization that creates “Sesame Street” and other educational fare for children.

Sesame Workshop and UnitedHealthcare recently announced that we are partnering to develop a bilingual education outreach program aimed at helping low-income families make food choices that are affordable, nutritional and set the foundation for lifelong healthy habits.

The initiative will offer support and resources for families with children between the ages of 2 and 5 to cope with “food insecurity,” which is defined by the USDA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as “households where there is a lack of access to enough food to fully meet basic needs at all times due to lack of financial resources.”

Program outreach will include bilingual (English and Spanish) Healthy Habits kits with an original DVD starring the Sesame Street Muppets and a documentary of families using a variety of strategies for maintaining healthy habits despite limited financial resources.

AmeriChoice, a UnitedHealthcare company and the country’s largest provider of personalized health care programs for low-income and vulnerable populations, will send Healthy Habits for Life messages and information to low-income and vulnerable populations in public sector health care programs via the Internet and newsletters that will go to the 3 million people who AmeriChoice serves.

With the Healthy Habits for Life partnership, AmeriChoice and Sesame Workshop could potentially see the day when parents and caregivers have a greater understanding of the relationship between healthful food habits and children’s healthy growth. And what a sunny day that would be!

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