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“Dance speaks to people in ways that maybe going to the gym and lifting weights, or walking a treadmill may not speak to them.”

Laveen Naidu
Executive Director,
Dance Theatre of Harlem

One Step and One Pirouette at a Time.

With two-thirds of American adults either obese or overweight, obesity has become one of the most serious and costly health issues of our time. Obesity increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke and other diseases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates the medical cost of obesity to be $147 billion annually. The same study found that persons who are obese spent 42 percent more for medical care than people of normal weight.

At the Aetna Foundation, we are combating obesity on two fronts. In 2010, we invested significant funding on a national basis in research studies designed to deepen understanding of the root causes of the nationís obesity epidemic and drive viable solutions to the core problems. More than $1 million in funding has been granted in support of separate studies at New York University School of Medicine, Boston University, the University of Michigan, the University of Pennsylvania and Yale Universityís Community Alliance for Research and Engagement program.

In our communities around the country in 2010, Aetna and the Aetna Foundation supported nearly 75 innovative nutrition and fitness programs aimed primarily at children and adults of higher-risk minority populations to help them live healthier lifestyles.

At the Dance Theatre of Harlem in New York City, for example, local children and their families are stepping their way to health through a community-focused program, the Aetna Foundation Healthy Dancers, Healthy Families Initiative. The program offers family-oriented dance fitness classes and guidance for healthful eating.

Aetna and the Aetna Foundation also support “dancing for health” programs offered by The Joffrey Ballet in Chicago, Dance Out Diabetes in San Francisco and the Charter Oak Cultural Center in Hartford.

In 2010, Aetna and the Aetna Foundation contributed more than $2.3 million in support of research and programs to reduce obesity rates.