UnitedHealth Foundation Teams With Sesame Street For Healthy Eating PSA

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UnitedHealth Group and Sesame Street have collaborated on a 30-second public service announcement about the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables, the latest of many videos from the children’s network and health insurer.

It’s been three years since the launch of Food for Thought, a partnership between UnitedHealth Group, the parent company of UnitedHealthcare and Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit umbrella organization that manages Sesame Street.

The health insurer, which has Connecticut offices, provides funding for Sesame Street videos, brochures and other materials that are compiled online and into “kits” given to families. The target audience is families with children aged two to eight, and the goal is to promote nutritional and affordable food, which can be a challenge for low-income families.

Some of the material has been broadcast on television. Other videos are exclusively online and on DVDs distributed to families.

Often the least expensive food is not the healthiest, and the videos spend some time showing how to choose the healthiest of less expensive options. The videos and print materials also provide recipes for healthy eating.

“We also discuss how to look at healthier snacks as well because we found in our research that one of the vulnerable points for young children is having healthier snack options,” said Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, senior vice president of Outreach & Educational Practices at Sesame Workshop.

Since the collaboration began, Sesame Workshop has distributed 1.2 million kits across the U.S. Additionally, several states held community events featuring the videos to engage families.

The 30-second public service announcement released Tuesday is titled “Eat a Rainbow.” The “rainbow” is an array of colorful fruits and vegetables, such as oranges, bananas, blueberries, green beans and tomatoes. Featured in the segment are United Health Foundation’s senior medical adviser, Dr. Reed V. Tuckson, and Sesame Street’s Abby Cadabby. It is not likely to be broadcast on television, but will be online.

“We are thrilled to partner with Sesame Workshop to offer tools and resources to help parents and caregivers gain a greater understanding of the relationship between healthy habits and children’s healthy growth. The PSA is a great way to share tips with families to help them stay healthy,” Tuckson said in a prepared statement.

The Food for Thought programs is part of a broader, ongoing partnership between UnitedHealthcare and Sesame Workshop, called Healthy Habits for Life. The insurer and network promote healthy lifestyles through video and printed materials in Spanish and English on subjects like exercise, eating and being aware of health hazards that affect children, such as lead paint.

“We’ve also incorporated materials around asthma and lead poisoning and home safety, again looking at the whole child and keeping healthy practices,” Betancourt said.

About Matthew Sturdevant

Full-time staff journalist at The Hartford Courant and magazine freelancer with a master's degree in writing from Dartmouth. My work has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, Taiwan News, The Baltimore Sun and many other news sources. My blog has been referenced by Politico.com, the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Georgetown Law Library and a number of organizations in healthcare and business. Sturdevant’s blog is "a well-written wealth of ideas," said The Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism, (businessjournalism.org, May 18, 2011). I have experience writing for newspapers, magazines, Web sites and blogs as well as shooting and editing video. I made regular appearances on news-talk radio and on the NBC affiliate station in Corpus Christi, Texas. I made occasional appearances on the Fox affiliate in Connecticut promoting Hartford Courant articles.

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