Health Net Helping Give Children a Healthy Start to the New School Year
LOS ANGELES -- July 8, 2013
With children nationwide soon to start a new semester, many parents will begin
stocking up on school supplies and mapping out carpool schedules. Health Net,
Inc. (NYSE:HNT) is reminding moms and dads that their back-to-school to-do
lists also should include an inventory of their children’s health,
particularly as it relates to childhood obesity. In fact, the seriousness of
this issue was underscored just last month, when the American Medical
Association approved a policy stating that obesity should be called a disease
and not simply a condition.
While obesity negatively affects people of all ages, the medical impact on
children and adolescents – because it can carry over into adulthood – is
particularly alarming. “According to the American Heart Association, one in
three U.S. kids and teens are now overweight or obese,” says Patricia Buss,
M.D., medical and health care services operations officer for Health Net, Inc.
“We know that childhood obesity is causing a broad range of health problems
that previously were considered adult health issues. The Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC) also reports that children and adolescents who
are obese are likely to be obese as adults, so these health issues can last a
Specifically, the CDC lists the immediate health effects of childhood obesity
*Obese children and teens are more likely to have risk factors for
cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure.
In a population-based sample of 5- to 17-year-olds, 70 percent of obese
youngsters had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
*Obese adolescents are more likely to have pre-diabetes, a condition in
which blood glucose levels indicate a high risk for development of
*Youngsters who are obese are at greater risk for bone and joint problems,
sleep apnea, and social as well as psychological problems such as
stigmatization and poor self-esteem.
The CDC outlines the following long-term health effects of childhood obesity:
*Children and adolescents who are obese are likely to be obese as adults ^
and are therefore more at risk for adult health problems such as heart
disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and osteoarthritis.
*Being overweight or obese is associated with increased risk for many types
of cancer, including cancer of the breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus,
kidney, pancreas, gall bladder, thyroid, ovary, cervix and prostate, as
well as multiple myeloma and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
As Health Net’s Buss points out, “The key to avoiding the negative health
impacts of childhood obesity is for parents to help their kids – from an early
stage in their lives – maintain the appropriate weight for their height.” Buss
explains it was with this goal in mind that Health Net created its Fit
Families for Life – Be in Charge! Program. This five-week, home-based family
intervention program guides participants toward making better food choices and
increasing physical activity. Participants receive a workbook, cookbook, and a
DVD that provides nutrition information and easy-to-follow exercise routines.
Further reflecting Health Net’s commitment to curbing childhood obesity, Buss
explains that members ages 6 through 20 who have a body mass index at or above
the 95^th percentile additionally can receive personalized telephonic support
from nutrition nurses or registered dietitians who will help them achieve a
Teens nationwide, both Health Net members and non-members, can access T2X. T2X
is a health-literacy social website established through a partnership between
Health Net, the UCLA School of Public Health, and EPG Technologies that
motivates teens to make healthy choices in relation to nutrition, fitness,
stress management and substance abuse.
To help its providers care for kids and teens who are at risk for being
overweight or obese, Health Net developed the Pediatric and Adolescent
Overweight Assessment and Management Guidelines flipchart. This resource
outlines the latest tools and practice recommendations for providers who are
treating youngsters who are or at risk of being overweight or obese.
Tips for Parents
Experts at the Mayo Clinic offer the following tips for parents who want to
help their children reach and maintain a healthy weight:
*When buying groceries, opt for fruits and vegetables. Always have healthy
snacks available, and never use food as a reward or punishment.
*Limit sweetened beverages, including soda, energy drinks and those
containing fruit juice. Healthier choices are water, 1% or fat-free milk,
and 100% fruit juice.
*Sit down together for family meals. Avoid eating in front of a screen,
such as a television, computer or video game.
*Decrease the number of times you eat out, especially at fast-food
*Limit recreational computer and TV time to no more than two hours a day.
Other sedentary activities, including playing video and computer games or
talking on the phone, also should be limited.
*Emphasize activity, not exercise. Structured exercise programs aren’t
necessary, as the goal is simply to get your youngster moving, and that
can be accomplished through traditional childhood activities such as
playing hide-and-seek or jumping rope.
*If you want an active child, be active yourself. Find fun activities that
the whole family can do together; consider swimming, hiking or gardening.
Medical Advice Disclaimer
The information provided is not intended as medical advice or as a substitute
for professional medical care. Always seek the advice of your physician or
other health provider for any questions you may have regarding your medical
condition and follow your health care provider’s instructions.
About Health Net
Health Net, Inc. is a publicly traded managed care organization that delivers
managed health care services through health plans and government-sponsored
managed care plans. Its mission is to help people be healthy, secure and
comfortable. Health Net provides and administers health benefits to
approximately 5.4 million individuals across the country through group,
individual, Medicare (including the Medicare prescription drug benefit
commonly referred to as “Part D”), Medicaid, U.S. Department of Defense,
including TRICARE, and Veterans Affairs programs. Through its subsidiaries,
Health Net also offers behavioral health, substance abuse and employee
assistance programs, managed health care products related to prescription
drugs, managed health care product coordination for multi-region employers,
and administrative services for medical groups and self-funded benefits
programs. For more information on Health Net, Inc., please visit Health Net’s
website at www.healthnet.com.
This release contains links to other sites that are not owned or controlled by
Health Net. Please be aware that Health Net is not responsible for the
contents linked or referred to from this release. Links to other websites are
provided for the user’s convenience. Health Net does not express an opinion on
the content or the properties of such linked websites and disclaims any
liability in connection therewith.
Health Net, Inc.
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