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Keeping Kids Healthy and Strong

  • UnitedHealthcare has partnered with Sesame Workshop in their Healthy Habits for Life initiative, offering tools and resources to help parents and caregivers gain a greater understanding of the relationship between healthy habits and children’s healthy growth.

When it comes to getting important health messages across to children, nobody does it quite like Elmo, Grover and Big Bird. 

In an effort to address hunger and other childhood health issues, UnitedHealthcare Community & State has partnered with Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind Sesame Street. Through the Healthy Habits for Life partnership, UnitedHealthcare and Sesame Workshop offer tools and resources to help parents and caregivers gain a greater understanding of the relationship between healthy habits and children’s healthy growth.

“UnitedHealthcare Community & State has the privilege of serving more than 2 million children each year,” says Andrew Mackenzie, chief marketing officer at UnitedHealthcare Community & State. “As an organization, we share Sesame Street’s passion for encouraging kids to eat healthy and stay active.”

The partnership leverages the power of the lovable Muppets to help families live healthier lives. “Research has shown that Elmo and the Sesame Street Muppets can make healthy food such as broccoli and apples appealing to children,” Mackenzie says.

The Healthy Habits for Life partnership addresses four critical childhood health issues: hunger, lead poisoning, asthma and obesity.


Approximately 17 million American children are food insecure, meaning they do not receive food that meets basic nutritional needs due to financial instability. Of these, more than half (9.6 million) are under the age of 6.

Launched in 2010, Food for Thought: Eating Well on a Budget is an initiative that promotes healthy eating habits for families on limited incomes. Bilingual materials include caregiver guides, recipe cards, educational DVDs and children’s storybooks to help families prepare nutritious, affordable meals and provide strategies for making healthy food choices.

Lead poisoning

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), childhood lead poisoning is considered the most preventable environmental disease among young children — yet it is one of the most common health problems for children under the age of 6. Lead Away provides families information on lead testing and lead poisoning prevention practices.1


According to the American Lung Association, asthma is the leading chronic illness among children in the United States.2 The CDC reports that 1 in 10 children suffers from asthma.3 A is for Asthma provides tools and resources to help families actively manage their child’s asthma.


Obesity impacts 1 in 3 children in the United States.4 And though the National Association for Sport and Physical Education recommends at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day for preschool-aged children, nearly half do not get outside with their parents on a daily basis to get that activity.5 Together, Sesame Workshop and UnitedHealthcare are launching a new program that makes staying healthy and active fun for families. The program includes music, activities and a fitness tracker to encourage children and families to engage in physical activity anytime, anywhere.

Partnering for impact

As of May 2013, 1 million Food for Thought educational outreach kits have been distributed by Sesame Workshop, UnitedHealthcare and project partners including Merck Foundation and Women, Infants and Children. According to an independent study conducted by Field Research Corporation, nearly 3 in 4 families reported making positive nutritional changes, including:

  • Seeking information and assistance on how to cope with food insecurity.
  • Taking steps to save money on food.
  • Making changes to promote healthier eating in the family.

Materials and messages from Healthy Habits for Life initiatives are shared with UnitedHealthcare Community & State members, care providers and community organizations to promote health and nutrition in the community.  

“Through outreach, communications and tailored events, we are bringing resources directly to the community,” Mackenzie says. “The partnership is a perfect pairing that sparks positive change and improved health. Together as a team, we are able to impact lives and improve health.”


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Preventing Lead Poisoning in Young Children.” 
  2. American Lung Association. “Asthma and Children Fact Sheet.” 
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Asthma in the US.” CDC Vital Signs. 
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity.” 
  5. Tandon, et al. “Frequency of Parent-Supervised Outdoor Play of US Preschool-Aged Children.” JAMA Pediatrics 166(8):707-712.