Plans fight childhood obesity

Communicating a culture of wellness and a supported program for members and families can help overcome childhood obesity.

Employers and health plans are increasingly bearing the burden of childhood obesity, which has reached near-epidemic levels.

“Managed care executives need to communicate the importance of a culture of wellness to members and their families. This starts with a fully supported wellness program that engages members and provides activities that promote healthier lifestyle choices for the entire family,” says Ron Geraty, MD, CEO of Alere.

Alere’s Healthy Kids program, launched to employer and health plans, helps parents and caregivers promote healthy habits for children with a week-by-week, structured approach to improving family health and reducing risk for childhood obesity.

The root causes of childhood obesity are preventable: poor diet and inactivity, according to Dr. Geraty. “This presents a clear opportunity for organizations to move proactively to address the problem for their populations,” he says.

• The national cost of childhood obesity is estimated at $14 billion annually.

• 16% of America’s school children are overweight or obese.

• Medical treatment for children with obesity averages $3,700 per year.