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25 Aug, 2014

“Pedal Powered” Smoothies to Help Tackle Youth Obesity, Encourage Healthy Lifestyles

SYRACUSE, N.Y.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–August 21, 2014 – UnitedHealthcare and New York State 4-H Youth Development are expanding a successful partnership called Eat4-Health that helps tackle obesity by promoting healthy eating and active lifestyles among youth and families.

UnitedHealthcare is providing Cornell University Cooperative Extension, which administers 4-H programs in New York, a $40,000 grant to support youth healthy-living programs. A portion of the grant is being used to support healthy living programming, which includes the purchase of pedal-powered blender bikes that will be used for fun, energetic events where young people can create their own healthy smoothies through exercise.

The specially made stationary bikes are equipped with a blender mechanism that makes smoothies when pedaled. The bikes were unveiled on opening day of The Great New York State Fair, where 4-Hers, community leaders and UnitedHealthcare’s mascot Dr. Health E. Hound cheered on young fairgoers who created a healthy snack in a healthy way.

The grant, along with the smoothie bikes and other exercise equipment, will be used to support community events and programs this summer through spring 2015 in which youth and families can learn about easy ways to promote healthy lifestyles. Recipe cards, educational information and other resources will be distributed as part of the program. The goal is to encourage young people and their families to eat more nutritious foods and exercise regularly.

Cornell University Cooperative Extension and the New York State 4-H are working together to implement the grant, in collaboration with and in support of U.S. Department of Agriculture nutrition education programs.

A plan has been developed to provide innovative, hands-on learning to target underserved communities in the state, led by 4-H and Extension educators, volunteers and teen leaders to encourage youth and community participation.

“New York 4-H is very excited to team up with UnitedHealthcare to create a more hands-on opportunity for 4-H youth to promote active, healthy lifestyles,” said Andy Turner, New York 4-H Youth Development Program Leader. “These new pedal-powered resources are a great way for 4-H youth health ambassadors to spread vital important that supports habits of healthy living in our communities.”

UnitedHealthcare employees will help organize and host many of these events, and planning and implementing projects that lead to positive, sustainable change at the community and individual level. The company has already provided Cornell University Cooperative Extension $100,000 to support the Eat4-Health program since 2011.

“UnitedHealthcare is grateful for the opportunity to continue our work with New York 4-H to help educate young people about healthy lifestyles and exercise in their daily lives,” said Pat Celli, president, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of New York. “These bikes and educational resources provide a unique way to deliver these messages in a positive and meaningful way.”

UnitedHealthcare is providing $520,000 to National 4-H Council to support youth healthy-living programs. In addition to New York, other state 4-H programs receiving grants include Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin. Eat4-Health, which began in 2011, has already reached more than 210,000 young people and families across nine states through a positive campaign that has trained thousands of 4-H teen youth health ambassadors to promote healthy lifestyles in their communities.

According to America’s Health Rankings®, an annual comprehensive assessment of the nation’s health on a state-by-state basis, obesity is a leading risk factor for diabetes, heart disease and many cancers. Obesity continues to be at epidemic levels and is one of the fastest-growing health challenges confronting the nation. The report can be viewed and downloaded at www.americashealthrankings.org.

Learn more about 4-H at www.4-H.org.