First Lady Crissy Haslam, Sesame Street’s Grover and UnitedHealthcare Encourage Kids to Read and Live Healthy

May 14, 2013

Tennessee First Lady Crissy Haslam, Sesame Street's Grover and UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Tennessee President and CEO Scott A. Bowers taught kindergarten and pre-K students at Buena Vista Enhanced Option School in North Nashville  the importance of reading, fitness and making healthy food choices.

The event featured a series of interactive lessons, integrating the complementary missions of The First Lady's Read20 Book Club, Sesame Street's Food for Thought: Eating Well on a Budget program and UnitedHealthcare's commitment to helping Tennesseans live healthier lives through education on nutrition, fun and fitness activities.

"Reading, healthy eating and fitness are all vital components of a child's ability to learn, grow and succeed, " said Mrs. Haslam, whose Read20 Book Club encourages Tennessee children and families to read together for at least 20 minutes every day to help children develop a larger vocabulary, a longer attention span, better listening skills, and a solid reading foundation. "I'm hopeful the children will take the lessons they learned today and begin applying that knowledge to their lives at home."

Mrs. Haslam began today's program by reading to students from the book "Elmo's Breakfast Bingo." Grover and Bowers paid a surprise visit to the children and the First Lady to underscore that reading is a great way to learn about healthy food and lifestyle choices. Grover and Bowers led students in an interactive game to help children distinguish between a healthy or "anytime" food and a "sometimes food," and Mrs. Haslam and Bowers served healthy snacks to the students before they returned to their classrooms to find goodie bags and watch Sesame Street's Food for Thought DVD.

UnitedHealthcare and Sesame Workshop partnered to develop Food for Thought as a bilingual (English-Spanish) multimedia outreach initiative that supports families who have children ages 2-8 cope with uncertain or limited access to affordable and nutritious food, also known as food insecurity. The program is aimed at helping low-income families make food choices that are affordable, nutritional and set the foundation for lifelong healthy habits.

UnitedHealthcare supports a wide range of programs and services in Tennessee and across the country that promote exercise, nutrition and healthful eating for families and children in the fight against obesity.

"We appreciate the support of First Lady Haslam and the partnership of Sesame Workshop to engage children in reading and healthy lifestyle choices," Bowers said. "Improving the health of Tennessee children is increasingly important given the health challenges facing so many of our citizens, including our youngest."

According to America's Health Rankings by United Health Foundation, Tennessee ranks 35th among all 50 states for the prevalence of obesity, with an obesity rate of nearly 30 percent. Tennessee ranks fourth in the nation for prevalence of overweight and obesity among children between age 10 and 17 at about 37 percent. Nationwide, about one in three American children ages 2 to 19 are overweight. Half of these children – about one in six – are considered obese.

UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Tennessee is engaged in other initiatives in the state as part of its commitment to helping Tennesseans live healthier lives through education on nutrition, fun and fitness activities. Among them are the Healthy Eating and Living Education (HEALED) program, which provides physician education to help improve intervention and treatment for overweight and obese children, and the Eat4-Health partnership between UnitedHealthcare and 4-H to engage people at the community level to take on the challenge of living healthy lives.

About UnitedHealthcare
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 780,000 physicians and care professionals and 5,900 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. UnitedHealthcare serves more than 40 million people in health benefits and is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company.

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