Healthier children through consumer lifestyle education

A group of Terrapin Advisors' clients are very interested in healthcare reform.

Healthcare consumption in America is a major problem. The United States spends significantly more on healthcare than any other nation. In 2006, healthcare expenditures totaled more than $7,000 per person, more than twice the average of 29 other developed countries. Still, the average life expectancy in the United States is far below many other nations that spend less on health care. More than 75% of health care spending is on people with chronic conditions. 

Furthermore, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of overweight children and adolescents in the United States has nearly tripled since the early 1970s. More than one in five children between the ages of 6 and 17 are now considered overweight. Childhood obesity has been linked to diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, and poor academic performance.

 None of this is a surprise; the issue of healthcare consumption is widely discussed. So is the issue of childhood obesity and its link to the chronic conditions that feed healthcare consumption over time. Hundreds of programs at nonprofits, hospitals and educational institutions claim to be addressing the problem. What programs, though, are actually working?   

 Studies point to programs that directly target the consumer, providing education about nutrition, diet and exercise. The challenge is getting the consumers to listen. Celebrity power helps, too. For example, in 2006, Rachael Ray launched a nonprofit organization called Yum-O! The mission of Yum-O! is to “empower kids and their families to develop healthy relationships with food and cooking.” The Yum-O effort is often praised, even by professionals at academic medical institutions. Positive reinforcement appears to be more effective than negative reinforcement. For instance, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s recent proposal to limit the size of soft drinks received mixed reviews. The analysis of the ban’s projected effectiveness was even challenged by the scientists on whose research the analysis was based.  

This group of Terrapin clients is pleased to announce its Consumer Lifestyle Education Signature Initiative. Our board of directors has engaged a team of grantee organizations to build and implement a five-year plan to move the needle in this critical area of healthcare. Our grantees are the following:

1. PE4life

2. Share Our Strength

3. The Food Trust

4. DonorsChoose

5. Boys & Girls Clubs of America