Press release

Aetna Foundation Seeks Public Input in Fight Against Childhood Obesity

-- Invites the public to select key organizations addressing childhood obesity to share $100,000 in grant funding --

Category:

09/13/10

Dateline:

HARTFORD, Conn.
"By engaging the public in our anti-obesity grant contest, we hope to bring greater awareness to this critical health problem and to highlight successful programs around the country that are helping kids and teens adopt healthier lifestyles."

Recognizing that childhood obesity has emerged as a significant public health issue, the Aetna Foundation invites the public to vote on charitable organizations from a selected list of ten to receive grant funding for their efforts to make children healthier. The online contest begins today and ends on October 5 at 5:00 p.m. (Eastern) at www.AetnaFoundationVote.org.

“Despite all the advances in health care, today’s children are the first generation that can expect to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents, in large part because one fifth of the nation’s children are overweight or obese,” said Anne Beal, M.D., M.P.H., a pediatrician and president of the Aetna Foundation, citing a 2005 study in The New England Journal of Medicine, and statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “But that grim prospect is something we can and must do something about, by teaching our children to make healthier food choices, be more active and take care of their bodies. If it takes a village to raise a child, it is going to take the whole nation to raise our children to be healthy, vital adults.”

To help engage the public in the fight against childhood obesity, and in recognition of September’s National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, the Aetna Foundation invites the public to direct a grant to their favorite nonprofit organization among a pre-selected list of organizations that provide healthy eating and fitness programs to at-risk children in underserved communities. The three organizations that receive the most votes will share $100,000 from the Foundation.

The public is invited to choose among 10 national and regional organizations that have strong track records fighting childhood obesity. The organization with the highest number of votes will receive a $50,000 grant; the second-place vote-getter will receive a $35,000 grant; and the third-place finisher will receive a $15,000 grant.

“Childhood obesity leads to higher risk of serious health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke, as children grow into adulthood,” Beal said. “By engaging the public in our anti-obesity grant contest, we hope to bring greater awareness to this critical health problem and to highlight successful programs around the country that are helping kids and teens adopt healthier lifestyles.”

The organizations that are eligible to win an Aetna Foundation grant through this online election were selected based on the positive impact of their programs, their ability to reach at-risk children in underserved communities, and their geographic diversity. Each has previously been awarded a grant from the Aetna Foundation. The organizations are:

• Action for Healthy Kids®, Skokie, IL
www.actionforhealthykids.org

• Center Helping Obesity In Children End Successfully, Inc., Kennesaw, GA
www.choicesforkids.org

• Committee for Hispanic Children and Families, New York, NY
www.chcfinc.org

• The DangerMan Education Foundation, Studio City, CA
www.thedangerman.com

• Girl Scouts of Connecticut, Hartford, CT
www.gsofct.org

• Glenda Hatchett Foundation: Fit Family Fun Fest, Atlanta, GA
www.parentpowernow.com

• MicheLee Puppets Orlando, FL
www.micheleepuppets.org

• The National Latino Children's Institute, San Antonio, TX
www.nlci.org

• Students Run L.A.®, San Fernando Valley, CA
http://srla.org/

• The Weller Health Education Center, Easton, PA
www.wellercenter.org

About the Aetna Foundation

The Aetna Foundation is the independent charitable and philanthropic arm of Aetna Inc. Since 1980, Aetna and the Aetna Foundation have contributed over $379 million in grants and sponsorships, including more than $20 million in 2009. As a national health foundation, we promote wellness, health, and access to high-quality health care for everyone. This work is enhanced by the time and commitment of Aetna employees, who have volunteered nearly two million hours since 2003. Our current giving is focused on addressing the rising rate of adult and childhood obesity in the U.S.; promoting racial and ethnic equity in health and health care; and advancing integrated health care. For more information, visit www.AetnaFoundation.org.