Blue Cross funds childhood obesity effort

Brad Wilson
Brad Wilson

PJ staff report

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Over the next three years, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation will invest $3 million to prevent obesity in young children.

Working with the North Carolina Partnership for Children, which administers Smart Start early-childhood programs across the state, Blue Cross will launch Shape NC: Healthy  Starts for Young Children, focusing on kids from birth through age five.

To reach that population, the effort will target children in child-care facilities, along with their families and caregivers.

“Shape NC is about communities, especially child-care communities, creating positive environments and making decisions that allow children to thrive and grow into healthy adults,” Stephanie Fanjul, president of the Partnership for Children, says in a statement.

The overarching goal for the program is to develop a blueprint for improving the health of children across the state.

In doing that, the effort aims to create 30 community partnerships and action plans to prevent obesity in young kids, and involve 100 early-childhood professionals in using NC Shape strategies in their work with up to 60,000 kids, 3,000 families and 2,500 child-care teachers and directors.

Through the program, Blue Cross expects 750 children attending model early-learning programs through NC Shape will maintain a healthy weight, and that 35 early-childhood staff in five pilot centers will be trained to model healthy eating, exercise and lifestyle habits for the kids in their centers.

“Bringing a program that reinforces the benefits of a healthy weight, nutritious foods, physical activity and healthy living to these children, their teachers and families is a powerful step in the right direction,” Brad Wilson, chair of the foundation and president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, says in a statement.

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