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New Initiative to Fight Childhood Obesity

A new initiative billed as the first of its kind was unveiled today to help battle one of the nation's biggest health problems--childhood obesity.

The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a joint effort between the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation, announced the Alliance Healthcare Initiative, which is designed to give children better access to health care to fight obesity.

More than one-third of children in the United States are overweight or obese, raising fears that they could be the first generation in recent history to have shorter lifespans than their parents. One of the biggest problems many families face in fighting obesity is getting insurance companies to pay for doctors' visits and other care to help deal with the problem.

Under the plan, insurance companies would pay for at least four visits to a dietician and four visits to a physician each year to provide guidance for how to eat better and take other steps to reduce and control their weight.

Blue Cross of North Carolina and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts have signed onto the initiative, along with two of the biggest insurers -- Aetna and WellPoint -- and organizers hope others will follow suit. Several companies, including Pepsico, Owens Corning and Paychex have also joined, offering the benefit to children of their employees.

Organizers expect the intiative will provide the new benefit to about 1 million children in the first year, and more than 6 milllion within three years.

Several medical groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Dietetic Association have signed up to help monitor the program and provide expertise.

By Rob Stein  |  February 19, 2009; 1:36 PM ET
Categories:  Family Health , Obesity  
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This looks like a start. Unfortunately, I don't see any mention of the national education establishment. Some of the truly at risk kids may not be touched by this as their parents lack health insurance.

Posted by: bikes-everywhere | February 19, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

As describes, this program will be a waste of time and money.

"One of the biggest problems many families face in fighting obesity is getting insurance companies to pay for doctors' visits and other care to help deal with the problem."

The kids can have a free visit with the doctor and dietitian every week for a year, to no avail.

What the kids need is exercise and someone to help control their over-eating (esp. junk food) - someone like a parent who is available many hours daily.

But I guess the do-gooders organizing this will feel good about it. Just don't do it with taxpayers' money through grants and earmarks in "stimulus" bills.

Posted by: SteveParkerMD | February 19, 2009 9:19 PM | Report abuse

Dr Robert Carl Parisien says: there's an epidemic of over-eating going on now in America. We eat double to triple the portion sizes that we used. There's just way too much food around and not enough physical activity.

Posted by: DrRobertCarlParisien | February 21, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

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