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Press Release: President Clinton Highlights Economic Impact of Obesity Epidemic on Healthcare

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Alliance for a Healthier Generation Receives Pioneering Innovation Award from CDC

President Bill Clinton today brought attention to the growing healthcare costs related to obesity in the United States and the urgent need for better prevention, assessment and treatment of the childhood obesity epidemic.

President Clinton, speaking at Weight of the Nation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) inaugural conference on obesity, discussed the significant impact of obesity on our nation’s healthcare system. According to figures released by the CDC today, obesity costs our nation as much as $147 billion per year in direct healthcare costs and lost productivity.

The President highlighted the work of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a joint initiative of the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation, facilitating innovations to significantly reduce childhood obesity in the United States by 2015.

“Nearly one-in-three children and teens in the United States are overweight or obese,” said President Clinton. “As the healthcare costs of obesity continue to soar, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s Healthcare Initiative has taken a lead by bringing together health insurers, employers, and national medical associations to provide more than one million kids and teens in the U.S. with healthcare benefits for the prevention and treatment of childhood obesity, but we must all do more to develop innovative solutions to combat the obesity epidemic.”

Launched in February 2009, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s Healthcare Initiative marks the first time national medical associations, leading insurers, and employers have collaborated to combat childhood obesity. Eligible children will have access to up to four follow up visits with their primary care provider and up to four visits with a registered dietitian per year (which depending on the carrier might occur through the physician’s practice). These healthcare professionals will work with children and their families on how to establish and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

“We know that effective prevention and reversal of obesity in childhood will lead to longer and healthier lives,” said Clyde Yancy, MD, president of the American Heart Association and medical director for Baylor Heart and Vascular Institute and chief of cardiothoracic transplantation at Baylor University Medical Center. “Through the Alliance Healthcare Initiative, the best science will inform prevention and treatment to help those most in need – the overweight and obese children. The American Heart Association is delighted to partner with the Clinton Foundation on this wonderful initiative.”

Current participants in the Alliance Healthcare Initiative include the national insurers, Aetna and WellPoint, along with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, PepsiCo, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Dietetic Association.

In addition to presenting the keynote address at the conference, President Clinton accepted the Pioneering Innovation Award on behalf of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. The award recognizes the success of the Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program, established to help schools develop and implement policies and practices to promote healthy eating and increase physical activity. Currently more than 5,000 schools and more than three million students across the U.S. belong to the Healthy Schools Program.

“We are honored to receive this prestigious recognition from the CDC for our work with schools,” said Ginny Ehrlich, Executive Director of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. “We believe there is no single cause and no single solution to the childhood obesity epidemic in the U.S. That is why the Alliance works to positively affect the places that can make a difference to a child’s health including at schools and in doctors’ offices.”

The Alliance for a Healthier Generation will have a prominent role at the conference. On Tuesday, July 28th Ginny Ehrlich, Alliance Executive Director will moderate a panel discussion on “Engaging Medical Systems in Obesity Prevention.” Additionally, Jessica Donze Black, Alliance Healthy Schools Program Director will moderate “Raising a Healthy Generation Once School at a Time” on Wednesday, July 29th.

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