BLOOMFIELD, Conn., February 07, 2012 - Cigna (NYSE:CI) Chief Executive Officer David Cordani today joined with ChildObesity180 and 12 other health plans to kick off a competition among the nation's schools to identify the best programs that inspire children to be physically active.
The Active Schools Acceleration Project (ASAP) Innovation Competition will award $500,000 in prizes to schools with the most innovative, impactful, and cost-effective physical activity programs, and to technology developers who create new ways of using technology to promote increased physical activity among today's youth.
"The very best way to ensure a healthy life is to begin exercising and eating right as a child," said Cordani, who is a charter member of ChildObesity180. "Schools play a critical role in encouraging children to be active and in supporting healthy lifestyles from a young age."
One out of every four children in America is either obese or overweight, an increase of 100 percent over the past 30 years. "The problem is that each child who is overweight has a 70 percent greater chance of becoming an overweight adult," Cordani said. "And we know that excess weight is linked to serious medical conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular disease."
First Lady Michelle Obama helped kick off the competition with a video message encouraging schools to participate. ChildObesity180, an organization led by a group of senior leaders from multiple sectors dedicated to reversing the childhood obesity epidemic, has been an important supporter of the First Lady's Let's Move! program.
"The First Lady has put her enthusiasm and energy into helping the nation's children become and remain fit and active, and we applaud her for taking on this important challenge," Cordani said. Cigna is one of 13 health plans that is supporting the ASAP competition. With a focus on improving health and wellness, America's health plans are a logical partner in this endeavor.
"Many schools have found creative ways to incorporate physical activity into the daily routine of their students, helping them to build lifelong healthy habits," said Christina Economos, PhD, vice-chair and director of ChildObesity180, associate professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy Tufts University, and a leading researcher in the field of childhood obesity prevention. "This competition is about recognizing those champions and identifying opportunities to bring their innovative solutions to scale."
Competition applications may be submitted beginning today through April 2, with regional school program finalists announced on May 14. Grand prize winners will be announced in June. Programs must target children between the ages of 5 to 12. Further details are available at www.ActiveSchoolsASAP.org.
Active Schools Acceleration Project (ASAP) is an initiative of ChildObesity180, an organization which fosters cross-sector collaboration through a portfolio of high-impact initiatives which aim to reverse the trend of childhood obesity within one generation's time. The ChildObesity180 membership is comprised of national leaders from the public, nonprofit, academic, and private sectors who are using their reach and expertise to drive an integrated national strategy to prevent childhood obesity. ChildObesity180 is chaired by Peter Dolan, former Chairman and CEO of Bristol-Myers Squibb and Gemin X, and Vice Chair of the Tufts University Board of Trustees. Leading childhood obesity researcher Christina Economos, PhD, serves as the Vice-Chair and Director, and Miriam Nelson, PhD, as the Co-Director. Drs. Economos and Nelson are faculty of the Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. Founded in 2009, ChildObesity180 is conducted in collaboration with Tufts University; the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation serves as a strategic partner. For more information about ChildObesity180, visit www.ChildObesity180.org.
Cigna Corporation (NYSE: CI) is a global health service company dedicated to helping people improve their health, well-being and sense of security. All products and services are provided exclusively through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, including Connecticut General Life Insurance Company, Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, Life Insurance Company of North America and Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York. Such products and services include an integrated suite of health services, such as medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy and vision care benefits, and other related products including group disability, life, and accident coverage. Cigna has sales capability in 30 countries and jurisdictions, with more than 70 million customer relationships throughout the world. To learn more about Cigna®, including links to follow us on Facebook or Twitter, visit www.cigna.com.