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Press Release

Independence Blue Cross Sponsors Montgomery County Health Alliance Summit Tackling Childhood Obesity

150 Area Leaders to Discuss Practical Solutions for this Growing Health Epidemic

Philadelphia, PA - March 30, 2009 - As part of its ongoing efforts to help children grow up healthy, Independence Blue Cross is sponsoring the fourth annual Childhood Obesity Summit on March 30-31, which brings together community partners to discuss how to improve the health and well-being of area children.

The summit will be held at the William Penn Inn in Gywnedd and hosted by the Montgomery County Health Alliance, The Greater North Penn Collaborative for Health and Human Services, and WISE SNAC, a program of the Health Promotion Council.

At the opening reception March 30 at 5:30 p.m., Dr. Richard Snyder, senior vice president of Health Services at Independence Blue Cross (IBC), will speak to local community leaders about the medical risks related to childhood obesity and what educators and others can do to improve children's health.

"One of the best things we can do for our children is to teach them how to live healthy and safe lives," said Dr. Snyder. "It sets the foundation for so much that will be important to them later in life - getting a good education, and becoming productive workers, caring parents, and responsible citizens." 

"That's why this summit, which brings together diverse, committed partners to talk about solutions, is so important," continued Dr. Snyder. "We're pleased to be part of this vital discussion, and to be a resource for anyone interested in learning more about improving kids' health."

More than 17 percent of people between age two and 19 are overweight or obese. Since the mid-1970s, the number of overweight and obese children has tripled, reports the U.S. Surgeon General. In addition, a study of Philadelphia elementary schools students found that overweight children were absent from school more often than normal-weight children: 12 days for overweight children compared to 10 days for average-weight children over the course of the school year.

IBC offers many tools, resources, and programs and sponsors a number of broad community initiatives that address children's health and safety, including:

  • Health e-Tools for Schools: a web-based program sponsored by IBC that helps school nurses, teachers, administrators, and parents support the reduction of student obesity by encouraging young people to adopt healthy lifestyles. Currently, 670 area schools with 385,000 students are using the tool.
  • GenY website: IBC's destination for kids and parents that offers fun and interactive information about healthy choices in diet, nutrition, and exercise.
  • Healthy LifestylesSM Healthy Weight, Healthy You Program: reimbursement for approved adolescent and child weight management programs. IBC members whose children complete the program are eligible for a reimbursement up to $200. 
  • Bike helmet reimbursements: IBC members and their children are eligible for a reimbursement of $25 for each new bike helmet purchased through the company's Healthy LifestylesSM program.
  • Do the SMART Thing:SM an interactive prevention program that teaches fifth graders about the dangers of tobacco usage and smoking. 
  • Healthy Kids Fest: an annual event sponsored by IBC at the Blue Cross River Rink to promote active lifestyles for children. The event features free activities and interactive games designed to increase coordination and promote good sportsmanship, fitness demonstrations, and education.

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About Independence Blue Cross

Independence Blue Cross is a leading health insurer in southeastern Pennsylvania. IBC and its affiliates provide coverage to nearly 3.4 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 is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans.

About the Childhood Obesity Summit

The Childhood Obesity Summit is organized by The Montgomery County Health Alliance in partnership with the Health Promotion Council and the Greater North Penn Collaborative for Health and Human Services. The Summit is an event of the Wellness Initiative for the School Environment: Smart Nutrition and Activity Collaborative (WISE SNAC) initiative, a project of the Health Promotion Council funded by the North Penn Community Health Foundation.

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