JACKSONVILLE, Fla., May 13 The rate of childhood obesityin America has more than tripled since 1980(1), and, in Florida, 32.5 percentof children ages 10 to 17 are overweight or obese(2). Compelled by the seriousand widespread threat of the obesity epidemic for children, families,communities and the health care system, The Blue Foundation for a HealthyFlorida (http://www.bluefoundationfl.com), the philanthropic affiliate of BlueCross and Blue Shield of Florida (BCBSF), today announced a statewideinitiative called Embrace a Healthy Florida.
The $8 million, four-year strategic effort will address the causes ofchildhood obesity through public-private partnerships. Embrace a HealthyFlorida was announced during a convening of Jacksonville community nonprofit,nongovernmental agencies, governmental agencies, and leaders who are currentlyengaged in activities that address childhood obesity.
"We are taking action beyond traditional nutrition and fitness programs,"said Susan Towler, executive director of The Blue Foundation for a HealthyFlorida. "Through strategic philanthropy, Embrace a Healthy Florida willfoster environments that promote healthy lifestyles for children."
The statewide initiative will support community-based programs thatpromote change in families and parenting, childcare centers and schools,neighborhood recreation opportunities and other influences on theaccessibility of healthy food and physical activity. Focusing on Jacksonville,Miami, Orlando, Tampa and Tallahassee regions, the three-phase effort willprovide grants to nonprofit organizations, fund research, and foster communitycollaboration.
Along with numerous physical health risks, overweight and obese childrenare shown to suffer higher rates of depression, greater difficulty in peerrelationships and poorer quality of life than their normal weightcounterparts(3).
"Instead of several segmented strategies, Embrace a Healthy Florida bringstogether resources from numerous factions," said Towler. "This enables theinitiative to become one unified effort working together to combat childhoodobesity."
The Blue Foundation for a Healthy Florida is a nonprofit, privatefoundation established by BCBSF in 2001. Through strategic philanthropy, TheBlue Foundation supports community-based solutions that enhance access toquality health-related services for Floridians, particularly the uninsured andunderserved.
The Blue Foundation for a Healthy Florida is a separate, philanthropicaffiliate of BCBSF incorporated in the state of Florida. The Blue Foundationfor a Healthy Florida, and its parent, BCBSF, are independent licensees of theBlue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent BlueCross and Blue Shield companies. For more information on The Blue Foundationfor a Healthy Florida, please visit its Web site at www.bluefoundationfl.com.(1) Sorter, A (2006). A Weighty Issue: Childhood Obesity. Retrieved April 30, 2008, from Florida Medical Center Web site: http://floridamedicalctr.staywellsolutionsonline.com/RelatedItems/1,2233. (2) National Initiative for Children's Healthcare Quality. (3) Action for Healthy Kids, The Learning Connection: The Value of Improving Nutrition and Physical Activity in Our Schools, 2004 (www.ActionForHealthyKids.org [July 7, 2005]).
SOURCE The Blue Foundation for a Healthy Florida