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Healthy Eating and Active Living


The Issues

2005 report in the New England Journal of Medicine startled the nation with its prediction
that the current generation of children will be the first in America to have a shorter lifespan than their parents’ generation – due largely to obesity-related disease.

This dire prediction was supported by a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that found that approximately two-thirds of U.S. adults and one-fifth of U.S. children are obese or overweight. According to the CDC, during 1980 to 2004, obesity prevalence among U.S. adults doubled, and it increased substantially among children. In addition, African Americans have a 51% higher prevalence of obesity, and Hispanics have 21% higher obesity prevalence compared with whites.

Obesity is a significant driver of increased medical costs, and undermines people's health as well as their financial wellbeing. Being either obese or overweight increases the risk for many chronic diseases, including high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers and stroke.

A 2009 study by the CDC, with RTI International (a nonprofit research group), found that the direct and indirect costs of obesity in the U.S. are as high as $147 billion annually, or 9.1% of medical spending. The study was based on figures collected in 2006.


Our Approach

Learning more about the underlying causes of obesity can inform and shape effective population-based health and wellness programs.

The Aetna Foundation wants to understand the contributors to obesity, particularly among minority populations, and what supports and sustains better choices that can stave off overeating and reduce inactivity.

Grant-making in this area focuses on initiatives that create a better understanding of the root causes of the obesity epidemic.

Examples of grants we would support include projects and/or studies that identify causes of obesity and potential best practices for addressing obesity, such as:

  • Domestic food policies and their impact on individual food choices
  • The impact of our neighborhoods and the “built environment” on promoting population health and  weight loss
  • Assessments of why communities with high rates of food insecurity also are more likely to experience high rates of obesity
  • How children use recreation time
  • How school lunch and food policies impact our children




Related Links

Recently funded Obesity projects 

Read additional information about our grant guidelines 

Other Program Areas

Racial and Ethnic Health Care Equity

Integrated Health Care

Our Mission
Our mission
Our mission is to promote wellness, health, and access to high-quality health care for everyone, while supporting the communities
                                           we serve. 

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