UnitedHealth Group Pledges $2.25 Million to Fortify the Y's Efforts to Prevent Obesity and Related Chronic Diseases

UnitedHealth Group’s support builds on partnership with the Y to extend reach of community-based intervention and prevention programs

MINNETONKA, Minn. (October 5, 2010) — UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) has announced a three-year, $2.25 million commitment to support the Y’s healthy-living initiatives and efforts to prevent obesity and related chronic diseases. 

The funding will help Ys across the country strengthen their obesity-prevention and intervention programs for children, adults and families who need ongoing support to make healthy living a reality in their lives.  The programs include:

  • Creating Healthier Families: YMCA’s Healthy Family Home – The Y will expand availability of Health Family Home to support more families in making small, sustainable changes that improve their health and quality of life.  This resource helps families better integrate regular physical activity, increase healthy food choices and strengthen family bonds. 
  • Creating Healthier Environments: Environmental Assessments – YMCA of the USA designed this assessment tool in partnership with the Harvard School of Public Health to ensure that YMCA facilities, childcare programs, camps and other programs support opportunities for healthy behaviors including physical activity and healthy eating.
  • Fostering Healthier Choices: Food and Fun Afterschool Curriculum – More YMCAs will offer the Food and Fun curriculum for their childcare sites to fight childhood obesity.  Developed in collaboration with the Prevention Research Center at the Harvard School of Public Health, this curriculum infuses healthy eating and physical activity into Y afterschool programs, encourages children and their families to develop healthier habits, and nurtures in them the desire to lead active lives. 

In addition, UnitedHealth Group employees will participate in the YMCA’s Healthy Family Home and Diabetes Prevention Program efforts.  UnitedHealth Group and the Y also will identify skills-based volunteer opportunities for employees to support their local Ys as part of the ongoing partnership and shared commitment to disease prevention and health promotion.

Nearly 34 percent of Americans over the age of 20 are obese – more than double the percentage 30 years ago – and another 34 percent are overweight.  Also, 17 percent of children ages 2-19 are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), based on 2007-2008 data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Today it is estimated that obesity costs the United States $79.4 billion a year in health care expenses, spending that is projected to increase to $343.9 billion annually by 2018 if current trends continue, according to the annual America’s Health Rankings, a state-by-state analysis of the nation’s health.  Obesity is a cause of many preventable health problems including diabetes, heart disease and some forms of cancer.

“Providing families and children with support and motivation to make positive behavior and lifestyle changes is critical to improving our nation’s health and our health care system overall,” said Jeannine Rivet, executive vice president, UnitedHealth Group.  “Our support of the Y’s programs adds to the continuum of prevention and lifestyle resources we offer to help Americans lead healthier lives.”

The Y is committed to improving the nation’s health and well-being through a variety of initiatives that help individuals adopt and maintain healthy lifestyles.  This is accomplished through a dual focus on influencing and motivating positive lifestyle behavior changes from within Y branches and working to create healthier communities through policy and environmental change efforts.

Today’s announcement builds on a partnership established between the two organizations earlier this year with the launch of the Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance and expansion of the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) through YMCAs.  The DPP leverages UnitedHealth Group’s national health care and technology resources, the Y’s proven work in prevention and its presence in local communities and their combined wellness expertise to help people at risk for diabetes prevent the disease through an evidence-based lifestyle-intervention program.

“The Y is committed to helping our communities better address the most critical health concerns, and obesity and its related chronic diseases top the list,” said Neil Nicoll, president and CEO, YMCA of the USA.  “We are grateful for UnitedHealth Group’s support, shared vision and continued partnership with us to improve the health of America's families.”

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About YMCA of the USA
YMCA of the USA is the national resource office for the Y, one of the nation’s leading nonprofits strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.  Across the U.S., 2,687 Ys engage 21 million men, women and children – regardless of age, income or background – to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the nation’s health and well-being and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors.  Anchored in more than 10,000 communities, the Y has the long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change. ymca.net  

About UnitedHealth Group
UnitedHealth Group (www.unitedhealthgroup.com) is a diversified health and well-being company dedicated to helping people live healthier lives and making health care work better.  With headquarters in Minnetonka, Minn., UnitedHealth Group offers a broad spectrum of health benefit programs through UnitedHealthcare, Ovations and AmeriChoice, and health services through Ingenix, OptumHealth and Prescription Solutions.  Through its family of businesses, UnitedHealth Group serves 75 million people worldwide.  

Contact:
Kelly Kennai
YMCA of the USA
202.835.9043
Kelly.kennai@ymca.net

Brenda Pérez                                                                               
UnitedHealth Group                      
646.734.1072                             
Brenda_perez@uhc.com                   

Tuesday, October 5, 20101

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The YMCA is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.