BCBSA develops new childhood obesity recommendations

October 15, 2010

Childhood obesity has tripled in the past 30 years, leading to many chronic lifelong conditions. Obese children, for example, are more likely to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, are at greater risk for bone and joint problems, and are more likely to become overweight as adults.

Childhood obesity has tripled in the past 30 years, leading to many chronic lifelong conditions. Obese children, for example, are more likely to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, are at greater risk for bone and joint problems, and are more likely to become overweight as adults.

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) has developed a set of federal policy recommendations aimed at helping prevent childhood obesity. The recommendations focus on four key areas: 

1. Promoting physical activity, nutrition and wellness in schools.
2. Empowering parents and families to take steps toward a healthier lifestyle.
3. Coordinating government and private resources.
4. Focusing on underserved and diverse communities, which have been disproportionally affected.

"As community-based health plans with nearly 80 years of experience in providing healthcare benefits, Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies have long pioneered innovative programs in their communities to help address childhood obesity," said Scott P. Serota, BCBSA president and CEO, in a statement. "Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies look forward to working with Congress, the administration and all stakeholders to implement these policies and help create a healthier generation of Americans."

Some of the key recommendations include:

  • Encouraging federal funding to support school-based initiatives, including increased physical education requirements, more nutritious school meals and snacks, and school-based screening programs.

  • Establishing public-private regional centers to serve as clearinghouses for employers, schools and community organizations seeking to implement wellness programs.

  • Fostering development of public-private pediatric patient-centered medical homes with an emphasis on childhood obesity.

  • Providing demonstration grants to states to improve access to population-level body mass index (BMI) data.

  • Creating more innovative public-private partnerships to improve prenatal care and breastfeeding rates.

  • Changing the tax code (taking into consideration deductibility limits and income based eligibility) so employees can use pre-tax dollars to pay for their share of health and wellness for themselves and their families.

BCBSA collaborated with Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies to develop the recommendations, in addition to looking for opportunities to leverage existing programs and initiatives already underway by the federal government and the private sector.