According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three children is obese or overweight, putting them on the road to lifelong chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease. If left unchecked or untreated, UnitedHealthcare’s 2009 America’s Health Rankings™ study projects obesity will affect 43 percent of adults by 2018 and will add nearly $344 billion in that year alone to the nation’s annual direct health care costs – more than 21 percent of total health care spending!
That’s why it’s so important for young people to understand the risks of obesity and learn about good health early in life, and it’s why we launched the HEROES program two years ago.
Our UnitedHealth HEROES program awards micro grants to schools and youth organizations that come up with creative plans for how to educate their communities about the importance of healthy lifestyles. We gave out 265 grants across the country this year, including 24 in Pennsylvania, and we’re now accepting applications for 2011 grants.
We’re calling on even more youth in Pennsylvania to join the fight against childhood obesity and become health HEROES! Teachers and community leaders can submit 2011 grant applications online at www.ysa.org/HEROES until midnight on October 22, 2010.
In 2010, we gave grants to organizations all across Pennsylvania, including one to high school students from the Agatston Urban Nutrition Initiative Youthworks Program in Philadelphia who transformed an abandoned plot of land into a community orchard and amphitheater; to students at Abraham Lincoln Elementary School in Levittown, who photographed “unhealthy signals” in their community such as the placement of junk food in grocery store aisles for a presentation to parents, school boards and legislators; and to students at Claysville Elementary School, who created a “Healthy Living” informational DVD and distributed it to classmates, community members and local media outlets.
I can’t wait to see what creative projects our health HEROES come up with to encourage their friends, families and community members to live healthier lives!