UnitedHealthcare and National 4-H Council are expanding a successful partnership called Eat4-Health that helps tackle obesity by promoting healthy eating and active lifestyles among youth and families.
UnitedHealthcare is providing $520,000 to National 4-H Council to support youth healthy-living programs. This grant is being distributed to nine state 4-H programs for the purchase of pedal-powered blender bikes that will be used for fun, energetic events where young people can create their own healthy smoothies through exercise.
The specially made stationary bikes are equipped with a blender mechanism that makes smoothies when pedaled. The new bikes will enable 4-H youth health ambassadors to spread important messages about healthy lifestyles as part of the Eat4-Health program.
The state 4-H programs that will receive grants include Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, New York, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin. Tennessee 4-H will use its grant to expand its “Move4-Health” program, where UnitedHealthcare purchased Xbox 360 Kinect equipment and Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) videogames for every 4-H County program in the state.
Eat4-Health, which began in 2011, has already reached more than 210,000 young people and families across nine states through a positive campaign that has trained thousands of 4-H teen youth health ambassadors to promote healthy lifestyles in their communities.
“We are thrilled to team up again with UnitedHealthcare in tackling obesity and promoting healthy lifestyles by empowering 4-H teen youth health ambassadors to spread these important messages through our Eat4-Health campaign,” said Jennifer Sirangelo, president & CEO, National 4-H Council. “By purchasing smoothie bikes and other exercise equipment, we aim to create and inspire young people to take charge of their own health and make a difference in their communities.”
The grant, along with the smoothie bikes and other exercise equipment, will be used to support community events and programs this summer through spring 2015 in which youth and families can learn about easy ways to promote healthy lifestyles. Recipe cards, educational information and other resources will be distributed as part of the program. The goal is to encourage young people and their families to eat more nutritious foods and exercise regularly.
Each participating 4-H state program will develop action plans that provide innovative, hands-on learning and target specific community needs in their state. Many of these activities will support healthy-living programs led by 4-H that encourage youth and community participation.
UnitedHealthcare employees, along with its mascot Dr. Health E. Hound, will team up with 4-H youth programs to help organize and host many of these events, helping with educational materials, and planning and implementing projects that lead to positive, sustainable change at the community and individual level.
UnitedHealthcare has provided nearly $1.9 million to National 4-H Council since the partnership began, with a goal to promote and empower youth to live healthier lives through education-based partnerships like Eat4-Health.
“Eat4-Health is making a positive impact and is a great way to empower young people to talk directly with their peers in fun, innovative ways to encourage healthy lifestyles,” said Austin Pittman, CEO, UnitedHealthcare Community & State. “The use of smoothie bikes at community events is just one example of unique educational resources being used to create excitement and competition among youth where they can burn calories and create a healthy snack in return.”
According to America’s Health Rankings®, an annual comprehensive assessment of the nation’s health on a state-by-state basis, obesity is a leading risk factor for diabetes, heart disease and many cancers. Obesity continues to be at epidemic levels and is one of the fastest-growing health challenges confronting the nation. The national median of obese adults is more than 27 percent, meaning more than 66 million adults are overweight or obese. Six of the nine states participating in the Eat4-Health partnership are ranked in the bottom 25 in the report, which can be viewed and downloaded at www.americashealthrankings.org.
4-H, the nation’s largest youth development and empowerment organization, cultivates confident kids who tackle the issues that matter most in their communities right now. In the United States, 4-H programs empower six million young people through the 109 land-grant universities and Cooperative Extension in more than 3,000 local offices serving every county and parish in the country. Outside the United States, independent, country-led 4-H organizations empower one million young people in more than 50 countries. National 4-H Council is the private sector, non-profit partner of the Cooperative Extension System and 4-H National Headquarters located at the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) within the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Learn more about 4-H at www.4-H.org.
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 800,000 physicians and care professionals, and 6,000 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. Globally, UnitedHealthcare serves more than 45 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.