Thursday, April 2, 2009

Twenty Members Of Congress Join The Humana Foundation In American Horsepower ChallengeSM To Fight Childhood Obesity

“The Humana Foundation, philanthropic arm of health-benefits company Humana Inc., is teaming with 20 members of Congress to offer 2,000 U.S. elementary and middle school students a unique exercise/video-game program intended to increase the kids' activity to improve their health. Increasing activity at the grade-school level is critical. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has more than tripled over the past two decades. The most recent statistics show that 34 percent of America's children are overweight. If this trend continues, it could cut two to five years from the average American's lifespan, according to a study by the American Heart Association, and result in a dramatic increase in already prevalent chronic conditions. ‘Childhood obesity is reaching epidemic proportions in the United States, and initiatives like The American Horsepower Challenge teach kids that staying active is a key to staying healthy,’ said Mike McCallister, chairman of The Humana Foundation board of directors, and Humana Inc. president and CEO. ‘For children to add exercise into their daily routine, it has to be fun. Kids love games and computers, so we combined the two.’ The American Horsepower Challenge is part of a trend known as ‘exergaming’ that incorporates real-world movement into video games. For example, this program translates actual physical activity (steps walked) into an online race. The competition is really two challenges in one:
- Five schools in the same state or Congressional district compete against each other
- States and/or congressional districts compete against each other
Twenty members of Congress have agreed to serve as honorary participants in the Challenge. Their own steps will be counted in their state's or district's total. Participating lawmakers include:
Rep. Jason Altmire (PA-4) -- Rep. Kevin McCarthy (CA-22)
Sen. Max Baucus (MT) -- Rep. Charlie Melancon (LA-3)
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (OR-3) -- Rep. Adam Putnam (FL-12)
Rep. Charles Boustany (LA-7) -- Rep. Mike Rogers (MI-8)
Rep. Ben Chandler (KY-6) -- Rep. Peter Roskam (IL-6)
Rep. Geoff Davis (KY-4) -- Rep. John Shadegg (AZ-3)
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (AZ-8) -- Rep. John Shimkus (IL-19)
Sen. Tom Harkin (IA) -- Sen. John Thune (SD)
Sen. Blanche Lincoln (AR) -- Sen. Mark Warner (VA)
Sen. Mel Martinez (FL) -- Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-20)
‘These lawmakers recognize the costs of childhood obesity and are willing to model healthy behavior for the kids in their districts,’ McCallister said. ‘At The Humana Foundation, we believe this initiative will help ensure that lawmakers consider the long-term impact of childhood obesity as they evaluate legislation to address America's most pressing public health issues.’”

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