Florida 4-H and UnitedHealthcare Launch Partnership Promoting Healthy Living Through Fun, Creative Activities at North Florida Fair

Florida 4-H and UnitedHealthcare announced a new partnership to promote healthy living and empower youth to help fight the nation’s obesity epidemic.

UnitedHealthcare mascot Dr. Health E. Hound joined 4-H youth for a healthy group exercise at the Nor ...

UnitedHealthcare mascot Dr. Health E. Hound joined 4-H youth for a healthy group exercise at the North Florida Fair to encourage attendees to stay active and eat healthy. During the kick-off event, UnitedHealthcare and 4-H encouraged hundreds of attendees to participate in simple, fun group dance and fitness activities designed to burn calories and promote health. Florida 4-H received a $30,000 grant from UnitedHealthcare to promote healthy living as part of a $300,000 “Eat4-Health” partnership in 10 states between 4-H and UnitedHealthcare (Photo: Sam Holton /Holton Photography).

The partnership, called Eat4-Health, is activating thousands of 4-H youth ambassadors to make healthy choices for themselves and encourage friends, families and people in their communities to make positive changes through training, creative programs and educational events. It currently spans 10 states, including Florida.

At the partnership launch in Florida, UnitedHealthcare’s mascot Dr. Health E. Hound joined 4-H youth, families and community leaders at the North Florida Fair to encourage attendees to stay active and eat healthy. Dr. Hound and 4-H youth encouraged hundreds of attendees to participate in simple, fun group dance and fitness activities designed to burn calories and promote health.

Florida 4-H leadership and youth also participated in an official partnership announcement, where UnitedHealthcare presented a $30,000 check to Florida 4-H to launch the program. The partnership is being administered by the University of Florida Extension Service, which provides 4-H programs to all counties in the state.

Eat4-Health builds on UnitedHealthcare’s successful partnership with National 4-H Council that began last year in Florida, Mississippi and Texas. The campaign is expanding to Arizona, Louisiana, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and New York. Each state 4-H organization is receiving a $30,000 grant funded by UnitedHealthcare to support healthy-living programs, events and other activities administered by 4-H that encourage young people and their families to eat more nutritious foods and exercise regularly.

“Florida 4-H is proud to join with UnitedHealthcare again this year to build on our partnership and empower youth to live healthier,” said Dr. Keith Diem, Florida 4-H Program Leader. “4-H youth ambassadors are eager to work with UnitedHealthcare to help forge real solutions to the serious challenge of obesity. Today’s activities are just one example of the creativity and excitement 4-H youth are bringing to this campaign.”

“The Eat4-Health program shows that our youth are leading the way to help solve the nation’s obesity problem. It’s exciting to see UnitedHealthcare and 4-H youth working together to make a difference in the lives of so many families in Florida,” said Kathleen Crampton, president of UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Florida. “UnitedHealthcare and 4-H look forward to harnessing the energy and excitement of 4-H youth to promote healthy living.”

Participating 4-H state programs receiving a grant will develop action plans that provide innovative, hands-on learning approaches that target specific community needs in their state. Many of these activities will support healthy-living programs led by 4-H that encourage youth and community participation through events such as health fairs, cooking demonstrations, after-school programs, workshops and educational forums, among others. UnitedHealthcare employees will team up with 4-H at many of these events, assisting with planning and executing projects that lead to positive, sustainable change at the community and individual level.

As part of the Eat4-Health campaign, each state is organizing a Youth Summit/Conference to train 4-H youth ambassadors to implement the programs and help reach the goals in each state. The summits will provide the venue where participants will learn more about nutrition, health and fitness, obtain information on promoting health within their communities, and gain new tools for participating in multisession educational trainings and one-time community activities and events. This teen leadership experience will also serve as a launch to a Teen Ambassadors pledge and prepare 4-H’ers to use their increased healthy-living knowledge and skills to make an impact in their own communities.

Online and printed educational materials will enable participants to learn and commit to making healthier choices. To encourage participation, the campaign will provide simple tips for healthy choices when food shopping, preparing home meals and school lunches, when out with friends or at special occasions.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity among children and adolescents has almost tripled since 1980, with nearly one in every three children being overweight or obese. Children from low-income and low-education households are three-times more likely to be obese. America’s Health Rankings®, an annual comprehensive assessment of the nation’s health on a state-by-state basis, indicates that obesity is a leading risk factor for diabetes, heart disease and many cancers. The estimated economic cost of obesity is $270 billion per year.

4-H reaches 6 million youth each year, 2.5 million of whom participate in healthy-living programs that promote nutrition, wellness and physical activities. UnitedHealthcare Community & State serves more than 2.5 million children in 25 states and the District of Columbia. 4-H and UnitedHealthcare share connections with many of the same public sector and community organizations, including state and county governments and school districts.

In 2011 the 4-H/UnitedHealthcare partnership reached more than 40,000 youth and families in three states through hundreds of community events and activities that included distributing positive messages about nutrition and wellness. This was accomplished in creative venues such as healthy-cooking demonstrations, fitness camps, youth forums and community family days. These events were designed to empower 4-H youth in the targeted states to help educate their families and people in their communities about the importance of healthy living through more nutritious diets and increased physical activity in their daily lives. The program targeted communities in Florida, Mississippi and Texas with the greatest need for education, outreach and resources.

About Florida 4-H: Founded in 1909, the Florida 4-H Youth Development Program works with more than 230,000 rural, suburban and urban youth ages 5-18 and is active in all 67 counties, and with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The 4-H program is the youth development program of the Florida Cooperative Extension Service (CES) which is headquartered in Gainesville within UF’s IFAS. The CES is funded by a partnership between federal, state and county government agencies. The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information, and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions, or affiliations. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A&M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. For more information about Florida 4-H, visit www.florida4h.org.

About UnitedHealthcare: UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people nationwide live healthier lives by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. The company offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with more than 650,000 physicians and care professionals and 5,000 hospitals nationwide. UnitedHealthcare serves more than 38 million people and is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company.