Be Active Kids Program Receives National Recognition for Educating North Carolina Children on Physical Activity and Nutrition (2003)

June 18, 2003

By: BCBSNC Foundation

Be Active Kids, a program sponsored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) and funded by the BCBSNC Foundation, has received the Community Leadership Award, the most prestigious award conferred on member health plans from the American Association of Health Plans (AAHP).

The AAHP’s Ellis J. Bonner Community Leadership Award was presented last week to Be Active Kids and BCBSNC for recognition of BCBSNC’s efforts to provide outstanding services to the community. Since it began in 1999, Be Active Kids – which teaches young children good nutrition and fitness habits – has been implemented in more than 6,000 child care centers in 94 counties across North Carolina, with a commitment to reach all 100 counties of the state by 2004. “We are proud of the impact that Be Active Kids has made on the children of North Carolina,” said Bob Greczyn, President and CEO of BCBSNC. “Teaching children now about proper nutrition and exercise will help them develop healthy habits for life. With childhood obesity on the rise, Be Active Kids is in a great position to make a difference for North Carolina’s children.”

Be Active Kids is an early childhood physical activity and nutrition initiative created for 4- and 5-year-olds. The program focuses on establishing early, positive participation in fun physical activities and education about basic healthy eating concepts. Program components include free training sessions and manuals for all trainers, a free kit for child care providers containing 15 lesson plans with materials and supplies, and a Web site for parents, children, child care providers and the public. After participating in the Be Active Kids program, 94 percent of children interviewed could name at least three healthy foods, compared with 46 percent among non-participating children who were interviewed. In addition, 92 percent of Be Active Kids participants interviewed understood what physical activity was – five times the proportion of non-participating children who understood physical activity.

According to participating child care providers, children in the program are more willing to try new foods, enjoy games with movement more and prefer healthier snacks, even reminding their child care providers what snacks are good for them. Be Active Kids was designed to respond to the problems of inactivity and obesity in children. North Carolina ranks 39th in the nation on the health and well-being of children, according to the national Kids Count Data Book. North Carolina children are two to three times as likely to be obese than other children nationally, according to a study from UNC-Chapel Hill. In addition, the study shows that children in North Carolina are exhibiting risk factors for heart disease as early as the third grade. Nationally, an estimated 15 percent of children and teens age 6-19 were overweight in 1999-2000, according to the Centers for Disease Control. That’s triple the proportion who were overweight in 1980.