Houston Kids Can Be Health Heroes

"United Health HEROES" is a program put on by United Healthcare. They offer grants of 500 and 1000 dollars to any group that want put together a program aimed at reducing childhood obesity.

This is United Healthcare spokeswoman Kim Whitaker.

"We typically say, okay, for five hundred dollars what kind of program would you do? And if you had just a little more money — perhaps a thousand dollars — how could you make that program even bigger?"

The program is open to youth organizations and schools. To apply for a grant, go to ysa.org/heroes. The deadline to apply is October 17th.

Whitaker says the groups can do just about anything they want with the money, as long as it has to do with kid’s health.

"Some of them are like health fairs. There have been other programs where the kids will do something like a health Olympics. There are other programs where they’ve created walking clubs in the schools, and then they’ll invite parents. So it’s really a big diversity among the types of programs that are created by the kids."

United Healthcare, which is a health insurance provider, is concerned about the link between childhood obesity and long term health problems.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three children is obese or overweight, making them more at risk for conditions like diabetes and heart disease.  

It’s believed this adds billion of dollars to the nation’s health care costs. So Whitaker says the goal of United Health Heroes is to get to kids early before they form bad eating habits.

"If we can get kids to start thinking about how they can make healthier choices in the things they eat — the snacks they eat after school, what they eat at lunch — then we know that kids will take that home and hopefully as they get older, they’ll make better choices as they age."

Winners of this year’s grants will be announced early next year.

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