Aetna Foundation Donates $40,000 to Support Obesity-Prevention Programs in Atlanta Area

Marnie Goodman, 860-273-2314orC.H.O.I.C.E.S Media Contact:Kenya Heard, 678-819-3663

The Aetna Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Aetna (NYSE: ), has awarded a $40,000 grant to The Center Helping Obesity In Children End Successfully (C.H.O.I.C.E.S.), an Atlanta-based nonprofit organization that works with communities in the metropolitan area to fight childhood obesity. The grant will support three of the organization’s obesity-prevention programs.

“Childhood is a critical period for developing a predisposition to lifelong obesity,” said Sharon Dalton, vice president of the Aetna Foundation and director of its regional grant making. “Data show that upwards of three-quarters of obese children become obese adults. Obesity’s impact on overall health can be devastating. By reaching out to at-risk children and their families, C.H.O.I.C.E.S.’s expanded efforts have great potential to help children in Greater Atlanta enjoy good health throughout their lives.”

C.H.O.I.C.E.S. will use the grant to present its program for young women, Sisters in the L.I.T.E. (Lifestyle Intervention Teaching Exercises); its parent workshops, We Can! Make Healthy CHOICES; and its eighth annual Children’s Nutrition Education and Physical Activity Expo, scheduled for March 23, 2013. The programs will teach kids and adults ways to eat healthier, be more physically active and engage in lasting healthy lifestyle behaviors.

“We are very excited about the impact the Aetna Foundation’s grant can make. Our focus is on underserved communities where obesity-related diseases are prevalent. This grant will increase our programming in metropolitan Atlanta and increase our ability to partner with other health-focused, nonprofit organizations, thereby reaching more children,” said Vanetta Keyes, founder and executive director, C.H.O.I.C.E.S.

Obesity is both a local and national health concern. For the first time in U.S. history, the current generation of children may live sicker, shorter lives than their parents, primarily due to obesity-related diseases. According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, a high proportion of the state’s young people are obese: 15 percent of children aged 2-4 years in the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, 24 percent of third-grade children, 15 percent of middle school students and 12 percent of high school students.

According to a study commissioned by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, more than half of Americans could be obese by 2030, resulting in millions of new cases of diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke. These obesity-related diseases could cost the United States as much as $66 billion in treatment and more than $500 billion in lost economic productivity. The effects of obesity are exacerbated in underserved communities, especially in the South.

Kennesaw will be the first site of C.H.O.I.C.E.S.’s programs starting this month. “The City of Kennesaw is committed to encouraging health and fitness through our Fit City initiative. We have partnered successfully with C.H.O.I.C.E.S. on several promotions designed to raise awareness about the childhood obesity crisis, and we’re very pleased to see the Aetna Foundation join with us,” said Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews. “It takes a concerted effort and lots of resources to encourage young people along a better, healthier path that will put them on the road to wellness.”

C.H.O.I.C.E.S. is currently accepting enrollment in Sisters in the L.I.T.E., a fun, fitness series for plus-sized mothers and daughters. The workshops will be held on successive Saturdays from October 6 through November 10, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Ben Robertson Community Center, 2753 Watts Drive in Kennesaw. The series will include nutrition education, fitness sessions and cooking classes. Advance registration is required. For more information or to enroll, visit C.H.O.I.C.E.S.’s , or call 678-819-3663.

The Aetna Foundation, Inc. is the independent charitable and philanthropic arm of Aetna Inc. Since 1980, Aetna and the Aetna Foundation have contributed $413 million in grants and sponsorships, including $19.2 million in 2011. As a national health foundation, we promote wellness, health, and access to high-quality health care for everyone. This work is enhanced by the time and commitment of Aetna employees, who have volunteered more than 2.6 million hours since 2003. Aetna’s current giving is focused on addressing the rising rate of adult and childhood obesity in the U.S.; promoting racial and ethnic equity in health and health care; and advancing integrated health care. For more information, visit .


The Center Helping Obesity in Children End Successfully, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that was formed in April 2002 to join the fight against the deadly epidemic of childhood obesity. The organization’s mission is to provide a parent and child resource center for the clinically diagnosed and at-risk children of obesity. In 2010 the Center reached over 18,425 children, youth and their families through community outreach efforts in metropolitan Atlanta. For more information visit: .

Photos/Multimedia Gallery Available: