; Blue Cross And Blue Shield Of Kansas City Shares Results Of Childhood Obesity Research
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Press Release

Blue Cross And Blue Shield Of Kansas City Shares Results Of Childhood Obesity Research

Research findings display an overwhelming need to tackle childhood obesity at both a local and national level

May 2, 2013

KANSAS CITY – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City (Blue KC) announces its first annual Blue KC Childhood Obesity Report, available online.  As Kansas City’s leading health insurer, Blue KC is committed to having a meaningful impact on addressing the childhood obesity epidemic in Kansas City, by increasing visibility to the issue, educating the community on prevention strategies and engaging children and families in healthy lifestyle programs.

“In September 2011, I announced that Blue KC was committing substantial resources to help fight childhood obesity in the region,” said Blue KC President and Chief Executive Officer David Gentile. “The Childhood Obesity Report details the work we’ve conducted, and highlights actions we can all take to improve the health of individuals and families in the greater Kansas City area.”

The report includes regional and national data, as well as statistics based on the population insured by Blue KC – which amounts to nearly half of Kansas Citians. It also provides recommendations on how community members, healthcare professionals and policy makers can significantly impact the local childhood obesity epidemic.

Prevalence of Overweight and Obese Children

Today, nearly one of every three children in the Kansas City area is considered overweight or obese, placing them at a much higher risk of health complications throughout their lives. In a recent Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDCP) report on nationwide state-by-state obesity rankings, Missouri and Kansas rank among the most overweight and obese states at 10 and 11, respectively.

Research from CDCP indicates both regional and national childhood obesity rates increase from early childhood into teenage years, placing emphasis on the need to combat obesity in young adolescents. The report shows Kansas City’s obesity rate among children ascends from 11 percent of children ages 2-5 and 6-11, to 15 percent of children between the ages of 12-19.

It is clear that the trend is growing in the wrong direction. Throughout the past decade, the nation has experienced an 18 percent increase in the prevalence of obese youth. If future projections hold true, the obesity rate for U.S. youth will increase from 18 percent to 31 percent over the next 25 years.

Obesity’s Impact on Chronic Diseases

Chronic disease concerns relating to obesity increase overall healthcare costs. The regional study indicates that 2012 Blue KC healthcare costs attributed to childhood obesity-related conditions approached $50 million among pediatric members. Based on trend, even the projected 2020 cost of $75 million to treat youth pales in comparison to the $245 million it could cost to treat these same conditions in adults.

When looking at the total youth population, overweight and obese youth account for 24 percent of emergency room visits, 22 percent of outpatient care and 33 percent of prescriptions, compared to overweight and obese adults, who consume the same services at a rate of 68 percent, 67 percent and 73 percent, respectively. This information confirms costs will continue to rise as young members become adults. Research data reflects that obese youth are more likely to experience severe obesity as adults.

“These numbers will continue to rise unless individuals and communities work collectively to address the issue. Blue KC aims to empower local families and children with the knowledge to do just that by providing helpful resources and supporting local partners’ wellness programs to fight obesity,” said Dr. Dawnavan Davis, Blue KC Director of Health Promotions.

Blue KC Initiatives

An important part of Blue KC’s strategy is to provide support to local programs that promote sustainable lifestyle changes to improve the health and wellness of individuals, families and communities. Programs such as Girls on the Run and the Chiefs Sports Lab all help to address and prevent childhood obesity. By providing support, education and intervention opportunities for children and families, Blue KC aims to improve the health of Kansas City youth to mitigate the progression of obesity into adulthood.

These initiatives and the Blue KC Childhood Obesity Report support the goal to transform Kansas City into a healthier community.

View the full report at BeWellKC.BlueKC.com/Obesity-Report and learn more about healthy lifestyle programs and opportunities.

About Blue and Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City, the largest not-for-profit health insurer in Missouri and the only not-for-profit commercial health insurer in Kansas City, has been part of the Kansas City community since 1938. *Ranked by J.D. Power and Associates in 2013 as “Highest Member Satisfaction among Commercial Health Plans in the Heartland Region, Two Years in a Row,” Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City provides health coverage services to more than one million residents in the greater Kansas City area, including Johnson and Wyandotte counties in Kansas and 30 counties in Northwest Missouri. Our mission: to use our role as the area's leading health insurer to provide affordable access to health care and to improve the health and wellness of our members. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more information on the company, visit its website at BlueKC.com

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 37 independent, community-based and locally-operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide healthcare coverage for nearly 100 million members – one-in-three Americans.  For more information on the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and its member companies, please visit bcbs.com. We encourage you to connect with us on Facebook, check out our videos on YouTube, follow us on Twitter and check out The BCBS Blog, for up-to-date information about BCBSA.