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Press Release

Media Contact: Cheryl Monkhouse
(404) 842-8516

WHOA Foods, SLOW Foods, GO! Foods: Adults 50 Plus Teach Youngsters to Eat Healthier

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia Foundation and The Oasis Institute Promote Healthy Eating and Lifestyle Habits Across Generations – Volunteers Needed

ATLANTA – September 6, 2011 – It’s an age-old problem. You know your children should be eating more fruits, vegetables and lower-fat foods, but how do you convince them to push away the French fries and doughnuts in favor of an apple or carrot sticks, especially when you’re not around to guide them?

The answer? In Atlanta, a number of adults 50 and older are volunteering their time and knowledge to teach kids the difference between WHOA foods, SLOW foods and GO! foods. They are part of CATCH Healthy Habits, a unique intergenerational health program that pairs adults 50-plus with children to encourage healthier eating and physical activity, which is supported by a grant from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia (BCBSGa) Foundation. The volunteers work with children in kindergarten through the fifth grade in weekly one-hour sessions to play active games, make healthy snacks and learn about food choices like WHOA, SLOW and GO foods.

WHOA foods are those that contain a lot of salt, unhealthy fats or added sugars—sometimes all three. Examples include whole milk, ice cream, butter, French fries, candy bars, fried meats and potato chips.

GO foods contain very little salt, unhealthy fats or added sugars—sometimes none at all. Examples include fruits and vegetables, fat-free or 1 percent plain milk, foods made with whole grains, broiled fish, baked chicken and lean meats.

SLOW foods are in between GO foods and WHOA foods and may include 2 percent plain milk, fat-free or 1 percent flavored milk, white bread and rice, pancakes, baked chicken nuggets and fruits canned in light syrup.

“Every parent’s goal should be to help their children eat fewer WHOA foods and more SLOW and GO foods,” said Mary Newton, OASIS Coordinator for the CATCH Healthy Habits Program, Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC). ARC partners with the OASIS Institute, which introduced CATCH Healthy Habits to area children this summer through a grant from the BCBSGa Foundation. OASIS is an education organization that introduced CATCH Healthy Habits to area children this summer through a grant from the BCBSGa Foundation.

“CATCH Healthy Habits is an evidence-based, nationally recognized physical activity/nutrition curriculum that has been proven to increase healthy behaviors in children. It has been kid-tested and approved, because it shows children that healthy eating choices can be both delicious and fun,” continued Newton.

CATCH Healthy Habits uses simple but innovative recipes with catchy names to convince children to try healthier foods.  A celery stick topped with low-fat cream cheese and raisins becomes ‘Ants on a Log.’ Cubes of cheese and cut-up fruit are speared on toothpicks to become ‘Dynamite Sticks.’ Graham crackers, low-fat cottage cheese, raisins and a touch of cinnamon are combined to create ‘Cracker Delight.’

“Most kids are reluctant to try a new food, especially if it’s presented as something healthy,” said Newton. “The key is to make it fun by combining different tastes and giving snacks fun and unusual names. What child wouldn’t be intrigued to try Ants on a Log?”

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nearly one-in-three children in the United States is overweight or obese, increasing their risk of becoming overweight adults with chronic conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and asthma. Additionally, obesity rates for older adults have doubled in the last 30 years, increasing rates of chronic disease and reducing quality of life for millions of Americans.  Approximately 60 percent of adults age 50-plus do not meet the CDC's recommended physical activity standards.

“We know that sedentary lifestyles and poor eating habits are the main reasons Americans are becoming obese and experiencing major health problems,” said Morgan Kendrick, President, BCBSGa. “Through programs like CATCH Healthy Habits, we hope to teach children and their parents that they can improve their food choices and still enjoy what they are eating.”

“A truly unique aspect of the program is that it also benefits the adults who volunteer, as studies have shown that those who participate in volunteer activities live longer, healthier lives than those who do not,” continued Kendrick.

Support for CATCH Healthy Habits is part of the BCBSGa Foundation’s ongoing commitment to addressing health disparities and improving public health across the country.  Through its State Health Index – a compilation of public health measures – and Healthy Generations program, the BCBSGa Foundation works to identify the issues most in need of attention and directs its charitable support and volunteer efforts toward improving health in those areas. Promoting healthy lifestyles and addressing increasing rates of obesity are focus areas of the BCBSGa Foundation.

The BCBSGa Foundation grant funds for CATCH Healthy Habits in the metro Atlanta area are part of a $2.7 million grant from BCBSGa’s parent company’s Foundation to OASIS that is expanding the program across the country.

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED: Over the next two years, OASIS will work with its primary partner, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, along with YMCAs, schools and other community partners to reach an estimated 5,000 children and volunteers nationwide through the CATCH Healthy Habits Program. The following metro Atlanta area locations are accepting volunteer applications for the fall:
• Warren/Holyfield Boys & Girls Club:
o Classes run from Oct. 4 to 27
• City of Decatur 4/5th Academy After School Program:
o Classes run from Sept. 19 to Nov. 7
o Volunteer Training: Tuesday, Sept. 13 and Wed., September 14, from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
• Ebster Recreation Center, 402 West Trinity Place, Decatur, GA

Additional metro Atlanta locations may be added, so those interested in volunteering in the CATCH Healthy Habits program should contact Mary Newton, CATCH Healthy Habits program coordinator, 404-463-0437, email,, or visit

The Atlanta Regional Commission is the official planning agency for the 10-county Atlanta Region, including Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry and Rockdale counties. The Atlanta Regional Commission serves as a catalyst for regional progress by focusing leadership, attention and planning resources on key regional issues.  ARC is the designated Area Agency on Aging for the region and the sponsor of metro Atlanta RSVP, which provides civic engagement opportunities to and for older adults who want to empower their peers in their communities.

About the OASIS Institute
OASIS is a national education organization dedicated to enriching the lives of adults age 50 and older through lifelong learning and service. Offering stimulating programs in the arts, humanities, health, technology and volunteer service, OASIS brings people together to learn, lead and contribute in their communities. The OASIS Institute is nationally headquartered in St. Louis, Mo. For more information, visit

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 address and provide innovative solutions to health care challenges, as well as promoting 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 Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, Inc. and Blue Cross 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 Also, follow us on Twitter at, on Facebook at, visit our YouTube channel at or check out the Our Health Connects Us campaign site at