Florida 4-H and UnitedHealthcare hosted nearly 200 youth and adult leaders this weekend as part of a statewide teen health summit designed to promote healthy lifestyles through better food choices, fitness and other hands-on learning activities.
The “Teen Healthy Lifestyles Summit” took place at 4-H Camp Ocala and included group activities, educational sessions and interactive discussions aimed at helping fight the nation’s obesity epidemic through innovative thinking, learning and lifestyle decision-making. 4-H youth from 31counties and three military bases participated in the weekend events, which focused on sharing the importance of healthy living and enabling youth to adopt healthy habits, and inspiring youth to learn healthy behaviors and to share them with their families and their communities.
The summit is part of the ongoing partnership between National 4-H Council and UnitedHealthcare called Eat4-Health. Eat4-Health is activating thousands of 4-H youth ambassadors from around the country to make healthy choices for themselves and encourage friends, families and people in their communities to make positive changes through training, creative programs and educational events. It currently spans 10 states, including Florida, which received a $30,000 grant through the University of Florida Extension Service, which provides 4-H programs to all counties in the state.
“This summit is an excellent opportunity to bring together youth to really engage them in addressing the obesity epidemic through the eyes and innovative thinking that young people bring to the discussion,” said Dr. Keith Diem, Florida 4-H Program Leader. “They know best about their lifestyles and needs, so engaging them in solutions is a critical element to addressing obesity among youth and their families.”
“Eat4-Health demonstrates how our youth are leading the way to help solve the nation’s obesity problem,” said Kathleen Crampton, president of UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Florida. “UnitedHealthcare shares in the excitement of these youth and Florida 4-H in harnessing the energy from this summit to promote healthy living.”
Several health experts and community leaders participated in the summit, including Karla Shelnut, Ph.D., Foods and Nutrition Assistant Professor at the University of Florida and a state leader in advancing obesity prevention among children, adolescents and young adults. UnitedHealthcare representatives, along with 4-H youth and adult leaders, helped facilitate learning discussions, nutrition training, cooking demonstrations and physical activities.
Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam praised the summit and its goals saying, “Not only has 4-H continued to make our youth better citizens over the years, the organization has successfully challenged itself to meet the changing needs of the communities it serves. This is an important partnership and I applaud the work being done by Florida 4-H members and its industry partners to help tackle obesity.”
Through Eat4-Health, Florida 4-H has developed an action plan to provide innovative, hands-on learning approaches that target specific community needs in the state. Many of these activities are supporting healthy-living programs led by 4-H that encourage youth and community participation through events such as health fairs, cooking demonstrations, after-school programs, workshops and educational forums, among others. UnitedHealthcare employees are teaming up with 4-H at many of these events, assisting with planning and executing projects that lead to positive, sustainable change at the individual and community levels.
As part of Eat4-Health, each participating state is organizing a youth summit to train 4-H youth ambassadors to implement the programs and help reach the goals in their state. The summits are designed to provide a venue where participants learn more about nutrition, health and fitness, obtain information on promoting health within their communities, and gain new tools for participating in educational trainings and community activities. Florida is the first state to hold its summit as part of the UnitedHealthcare grant.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity among children and adolescents has almost tripled since 1980, with nearly one in every three children being overweight or obese. Children from low-income and low-education households are three-times more likely to be obese. America’s Health Rankings®, an annual comprehensive assessment of the nation’s health on a state-by-state basis, indicates that obesity is a leading risk factor for diabetes, heart disease and many cancers. The estimated economic cost of obesity is $270 billion per year.
4-H reaches 6 million youth each year, 2.5 million of whom participate in healthy-living programs that promote nutrition, wellness and physical activities. The Florida 4-H Youth Development Program works with more than 230,000 rural, suburban and urban youth ages 5-18 and is available in all 67 counties and the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The 4-H program is the youth development program of the Florida Cooperative Extension Service (CES), which is headquartered in Gainesville. UnitedHealthcare Community & State serves more than 2.5 million children in 25 states and the District of Columbia. 4-H and UnitedHealthcare share connections with many of the same public sector and community organizations, including state and county governments and school districts.
About Florida 4-H
The Florida 4-H program is the statewide youth development program of the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS). IFAS is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information, and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions, or affiliations. More information is available at http://florida4h.org/about/policies/.
UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people nationwide live healthier lives by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. The company offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with more than 650,000 physicians and care professionals and 5,000 hospitals nationwide. UnitedHealthcare serves more than 38 million people and is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune50 health and well-being company.