PHILADELPHIA, June 14 /PRNewswire/ -- As part of its ongoing efforts to promote better health among children, Independence Blue Cross (IBC) recently joined forces with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) and Blue plans throughout the nation on a new initiative to tackle childhood obesity and diabetes. IBC launches the Good Health Club Physician Toolkit(SM) -- new, educational materials designed to foster better communication between pediatricians, their patients, and parents on childhood obesity and diabetes prevention. IBC will distribute the innovative toolkit to more than 250 pediatric offices in its physician network throughout southeastern Pennsylvania in time for back-to-school doctor visits prior to the 2010-2011 school year.
"We are very pleased to partner with pediatricians in our local region and join other BCBSA plans across the nation on this very important initiative to prevent these growing and devastating health epidemics among our children," said Joseph A. Frick, president and CEO at IBC. "Encouraging communication among physicians, parents, and their children about healthy behaviors at an early age can help children embrace better choices that will help ensure a brighter, healthier, and more productive future for our children and our community. We are proud to continue to make meaningful investments in prevention and health management initiatives like this."
The toolkit, developed in consultation with the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics, features healthy messages from the Good Health Club, a group of animal characters who encourage kids to:
- eat five servings of fruits and veggies every day;
- limit computer, television, or video game screen time to two hours or less per day;
- get at least one hour of physical activity daily, and;
- cut out sweetened drinks.
The new toolkit contains tip sheets, wall posters, physician reference materials, tracking sheets, and educational brochures. These tools help to facilitate discussions about preventive behavior and healthy habits during patient visits, and are engaging enough to increase the likelihood children and their families will take action.
Sadly, the U.S. Surgeon General reported that since the mid-1970s, the number of overweight and obese children in the United States has tripled. In Pennsylvania alone, one-third of school aged kids are overweight or obese, and a major reason cited is lack of physical activity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the last two decades, type 2 diabetes has been reported among U.S. children and adolescents with increasing frequency. In fact, one in three U.S. children born in 2000 could develop diabetes during their lifetime.
"The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that overweight adolescents have a 70 percent chance of becoming overweight or obese adults, and obese children or teens are at risk for health problems like heart disease and diabetes -- the two leading causes of death in the United States," said Dr. Es Nash, senior medical director at IBC. "That is why it is imperative that children develop good eating habits and continually get the exercise they need to live active, healthy lifestyles and avoid these diseases and their serious complications."
"As community-based health plans with nearly 80 years of experience in providing health care benefits, Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies have long pioneered innovative programs at the local level to help address childhood obesity and diabetes," said Scott P. Serota, BCBSA president and CEO. "The launch of The Good Health Club Physician Toolkit takes the fight against childhood obesity to a new level, by providing pediatricians with essential tools to encourage lifelong healthy living habits for America's youth."
IBC has long supported an array of programs and initiatives to help younger members get healthy, stay healthy and to fight against childhood obesity and diabetes:
- Active Schools. IBC and other sponsors provide funding to selected middle schools in Pennsylvania to put programs in place that can help to reduce childhood obesity and encourage students to engage in physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day.
- Health eTools for Schools. A web-based application provides educational resources and cutting-edge technology to help schools facilitate health policy requirements and enable better nutrition and physical activity planning for children.
- Healthy Lifestyles(SM) Healthy Weight, Healthy You Program. IBC members whose children complete the approved adolescent and child weight management programs are eligible for a reimbursement of up to $200.
- Do the SMART Thing(SM). This interactive prevention program teaches fifth graders about the dangers of tobacco usage and smoking.
- Good2BMe website. IBC's latest entertaining and educational online resource is for kids ages 11 to 17, and helps them learn how to make smart choices to live healthier.
- Step Out: Walk to Fight Diabetes. For the third consecutive year, IBC is the presenting sponsor for this ADA fundraising event, which takes place on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2010. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, the number of school children with diabetes is on the rise. Last year, the Philadelphia event was No. 1 in the nation for fundraising and participation in an effort to find a cure for this devastating disease.
Read more about the Good Health Club Physician Toolkit and find out more information about what the Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies are doing in their communities to combat childhood obesity and diabetes.
About Independence Blue Cross
Independence Blue Cross is a leading health insurer in southeastern Pennsylvania. Nationwide, Independence Blue Cross and its affiliates provide coverage to nearly 3.3 million people. For more than 70 years, Independence Blue Cross has offered high-quality health care coverage tailored to meet the changing needs of members, employers, and health care professionals. Independence Blue Cross's HMO and PPO health care plans have consistently received the highest ratings from the National Committee for Quality Assurance.
Independence Blue Cross is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
SOURCE Independence Blue Cross