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UnitedHealthcare Community Plan, Philadelphia Mayor and Greater Philadelphia Action Launch Healthy Eating Iniative to Combat the State’s ‘Public Health Crisis’

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (Aug 11, 2011) – UnitedHealthcare Community & State and Greater Philadelphia Health Action, Inc. (GPHA) are launching the “Small Steps Program” to fight obesity in Philadelphia.

The program combines education, nutrition experts, fresh food markets and in-clinic communications to guide people to healthy foods, medical information and resources available to help them take better care of their health in partnership with their care provider.

The program was born out of the desire to provide more opportunities for health care providers to have meaningful discussions with clinically obese patients, and to instigate taking small steps toward positive changes during their frequent visits to GPHA facilities.

The Small Steps Program and events in Philadelphia are part of a local partnership between UnitedHealthcare, GPHA and The Food Trust, a nonprofit organization established in 1992 to promote and ensure access to affordable and nutritious foods.

“Obesity is a public health crisis in Philadelphia,” said Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. “The prevalence of diseases associated with obesity is well above the national goals, and socioeconomic and racial disparities are a common factor. Everyone in our city, and the entire commonwealth, deserves access to information and the resources to fight obesity and maintain healthier lifestyles.”

According to a 2008 U.S. Department of Public Health report, in Philadelphia, 64 percent of adults and 57 percent of children ages 6 to 11 are overweight or obese. Nearly 70 percent of children are overweight or considered clinically “obese” in North Philadelphia, which means their Body Mass Index (BMI) is above the national standard for weight and height measurements.

Also noted in the report is a connection between a lack of access to affordable, healthy foods as a risk factor for obesity and related poor health outcomes. The need for increased access to healthy foods was also shown to be especially important in low-income, minority neighborhoods in Philadelphia.

“Obesity is a major risk factor for heart disease, many forms of cancer, and type 2 diabetes,” said Rodney Armstead, M.D., president of UnitedHealthcare Community & State Northeast Region. “Through this informative, fun and accessible program we are hoping to empower people to have more informed conversations with their physicians and learn about healthy eating habits and how to improve their health overall.”

“Providing access to quality health care and information to people in the community who can’t afford it has been the mission of GPHA for more than 40 years,” said Ronald Heigler, CEO and executive director of GPHA, a nonprofit community-based health organization. “This program will extend our reach in the community where we are already serving more than 85,000 insured and underinsured patients.” To find out more about the Small Steps Program or for a schedule of local events, call (215) 832-4722.

About GPHA
For more than 40 years, GPHA has been a staple of healthcare services in the community serving 80,000 plus patients with a full umbrella of total health care services.

About The Food Trust
The Food Trust, a nonprofit founded in 1992, strives to make healthy food available to all. Working with neighborhoods, schools, grocers, farmers and policymakers, The Food Trust has developed a comprehensive approach that combines nutrition education and greater availability of affordable, healthy food. To learn more about The Food Trust, visit

About UnitedHealthcare
UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people nationwide live healthier lives by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. The company offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with more than 650,000 physicians and care professionals and 5,000 hospitals nationwide. UnitedHealthcare serves more than 38 million people and is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company.

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