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Press Release

Media Contact:

Cheryl Monkhouse, BCBSGA

Kristen Obaranec, YMCA
404-267-5335, cell 404-593-7920

Collaborating for Community Impact

600 obese adults to make a positive change with BCBSGA Foundation and YMCA

ATLANTA (March 31, 2009) --- The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia Foundation awarded a three-year, $250,000 grant to the Metro Atlanta YMCA. The Foundation's concern for the health of local residents will enable 600 severely obese adults to participate in THE COACH APPROACH at the YMCA to help fight obesity through pre-diabetes intervention.

The goal of this study is to make positive health changes before the onset of diabetes occurs. Men and women with a Body Mass Index of 35 kg/m2 or higher have a lifetime risk of diabetes of 70.3 percent, according to a 2007 article published in Diabetes Care. For a person who is 5'6" tall, this is about 60 pounds above what is considered to be a healthy weight, for example.

At five local YMCAs, Y staff will support adults with a personal wellness coach, individual plans for physical activity, education on nutrition and healthy eating, and behavior change self-management skills. The YMCAs participating in this "Make a Positive Change" initiative are in Alpharetta, Buckhead, East Lake, Lawrenceville, and Newnan.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia Foundation is committed to supporting long-term activities that decrease obesity and increase physical activity to combat these potential conditions. "We are pleased to support programs that provide guidance, encouragement and education to help Georgians live healthier lives," says Monye Connolly, president of BCBSGA.

"Through its research and evidence-based health programs, the Metro Atlanta YMCA is successfully and positively impacting community health," Connolly says. "Many individuals may not need medication to treat diabetes if they lose weight through increased physical activity and better nutrition."

The Metro Atlanta YMCA developed THE COACH APPROACH exercise process to help build the habit of regular physical activity in adults. It is an evidence-based, behavior-change protocol for new and returning exercisers.

"Research from The Coach Approach shows that physical activity improves a person's quality of life and mental health, including depression, anxiety, energy, and self-concept," says Jim Annesi, Ph.D., Metro Atlanta YMCA director of wellness advancement and developer of The Coach Approach.

"Obese adults oftentimes can prevent diabetes through increased activity and weight loss. Thanks to the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia Foundation, the Y can continue its research into preventing diabetes through large-scale community health change, and individuals can make positive changes in their lives," says Annesi.

About BCBSGa: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, Inc. and Blue Cross and Blue Shield Healthcare Plan of Georgia, Inc. are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association® . The Blue Cross and Blue Shield names and symbols are registered marks of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Additional information about Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia is available at

About the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia Foundation
Through charitable grant making, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia Foundation LLC, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, promotes Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia's inherent commitment to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and families in communities that the company serves. The Foundation focuses its funding on strategic initiatives that promote the Healthy Generations Program, a multi-generational initiative that targets specific disease states and medical conditions.  These include: prenatal care in the first trimester, low birth weight babies, cardiac morbidity rates, long term activities that decrease obesity and increase physical activity, diabetes prevalence in adult populations, adult pneumococcal and influenza vaccinations and smoking cessation. The Foundation also coordinates the company's annual associate giving campaign and its parent foundation provides a 50 percent match of associates' campaign pledges. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield names and symbols are registered marks of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. To learn more about the Foundation please visit

About Metro Atlanta YMCA: A nonprofit association, the Metro Atlanta YMCA responds to critical social needs and unites children and adults of all abilities, ages, beliefs, cultures, faiths, and incomes. YMCAs are committed to helping children and youth deepen positive values, their commitment to service and their motivation to learn; families build stronger bonds, spend time together and become more engaged with their communities; individuals strengthen their spiritual, mental and physical well-being.
At every stage of life, YMCAs help children, families and individuals reach their full potential. Financial assistance is available based on need. For information on YMCAs in metro Atlanta, visit or call 404-588-9622.

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