Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia Connecting Youth and Seniors to Fight Obesity Skip To Main Content

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia Connecting Youth and Seniors to Fight Obesity

November 11, 2013


Atlanta – (Nov. 11, 2013) – Sometimes it’s just knowing what you don’t know. And sometimes, it’s hearing what you need to know from someone you respect. When it comes to obesity, the push is on to help people of all ages learn what they need to know to adopt healthier behaviors. The good news is some progress is being made.


According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity among low-income preschoolers declined, from 2008 through 2011, in 19 of 43 states and territories studied.


Nationally, the decline coincided with a variety of efforts to promote healthy eating and physical activity. Locally, in Atlanta, the effort to get kids off to a healthy start in life is underway thanks to The OASIS Institute (OASIS), a national education organization for adults 50 and older, the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) and the BlueCross and BlueShield of Georgia Foundation.


“Obesity has become a primary focus of the medical community because the numbers are simply staggering,” said Mary Newton, Coordinator for Atlanta’s CATCH Healthy Habits program. Statistics from the CDC show that one of every eight preschoolers is obese, along with 72 million adults. The CDC reports that, “Children who are overweight or obese as preschoolers are five times as likely as normal-weight children to be overweight or obese as adults.” Furthermore, “persons who are obese have medical costs that are $1,429 higher than those of normal weight.”


“We can do something about this, and we are,” added Newton.


The BlueCross and BlueShield of Georgia Foundation has provided a $68,000 grant to enable OASIS to continue the CATCH Health Habits program to Atlanta in partnership with ARC. The popular, evidence-based program pairs adult volunteers, age 50-plus, with children in Kindergarten to 5th grades to encourage healthier eating and increase physical activity. Together, both generations play active games, learn about food choices and prepare and eat healthy snacks. The program takes place both after school and during the summer and is currently available in 19 cities across the country.


Locally, CATCH Health Habits will be offered this fall at many Atlanta area locations. Adult volunteers are also needed to help run the program. For more information, contact Mary Newton by calling 404.463.3119 or Or visit  


“The health risks associated with sedentary lifestyles and poor nutrition affect children and adults, but we’re finding that by pairing these two age groups together they can be role models for each other,” said Morgan Kendrick, President of BlueCross and BlueShield of Georgia. “We’re excited to bring this important program to Atlanta and will continue working to strengthen and expand health-improving resources and programs throughout our state.”


National results from the first two years of CATCH Healthy Habits show the program is working. Among the more than 6,000 child participants, the number of children eating two or more fruits a day increased by 12 percent (from baseline); 15 percent were eating three or more vegetables a day; 87 percent liked the program’s healthy snacks; 90 percent had fun exercising; and 86 percent enjoyed learning about health.


Health and habit improvements have also been experienced by the more than 900 adult volunteers who help lead the CATCH Healthy Habits programs. In fact, 28 percent of the adult volunteers reported eating three or more vegetables a day; 10 percent ate two or more fruits; and 11 percent reported their sedentary behavior decreased by 11 percent, with 22 percent participating in moderate physical activity five or more days a week and 17 percent participating in vigorous physical activity three or more days a week.


“It’s obvious that both children and adults can achieve a healthier lifestyle and beat obesity once they learn about nutrition and the benefits of staying active,” said Holtgrave. “A little knowledge and encouragement can be a powerful tool, and CATCH Healthy Habits is proving that it can work.”


For more information on the program, visit  


About the BlueCross and BlueShield of Georgia Foundation

Through charitable grant making, the BlueCross and BlueShield of Georgia Foundation LLC, an independent licensee of the BlueCross and BlueShield Association, promotes BlueCross and BlueShield 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 BlueCross and BlueShield names and symbols are registered marks of the BlueCross and BlueShield Association.


About BlueCross and BlueShield of Georgia

BlueCross and BlueShield of Georgia, a WellPoint affiliated Health Plan, celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2012, and as the state’s largest and longest-standing insurer, serves more than 2.4 million members, offering a variety of healthcare plans, including medical, dental, life and specialty programs. BlueCross and BlueShield of Georgia, Inc. and Blue Cross Blue Shield Healthcare Plan of Georgia, Inc. are independent licensees of the BlueCross and BlueShield Association®. The BlueCross and BlueShield names and symbols are registered marks of the BlueCross and BlueShield Association. Additional information about BlueCross and BlueShield of Georgia is available at


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 in St. Louis is the headquarters of a national network that serves a diverse audience through educational centers and community partners in 43 U.S. cities and 25 states. For more information, visit


About the Atlanta Regional Commission

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, as well as the City of Atlanta and 68 other cities. The Atlanta Regional Commission serves as a catalyst for regional progress by focusing leadership, attention and planning resources on key regional issues. ARC is also the designated Area Agency on Aging for the 10-county region. ARC sponsors Metro Atlanta RSVP, which provides civic engagement opportunities to and for older adults who want to empower peers in their communities.

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·         Bert Kelly, BCBSGA, 404-842-8516,

·         Joan Berkman, 314-726-3484,

·         Mary G. Wilson, OASIS Institute, 314-862-2933 x 282,

Media Contact:
Debbie Diamond
Ph: (404) 479-8735