Two grants to fund weight management, nutrition initiatives for New Ulm project

Published on May 5, 2013 at 12:43 AM · No Comments

Support will enable new weight management and nutrition initiatives in New Ulm

UnitedHealth Group and the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation, in conjunction with Allina Health and the community of New Ulm, Minn., recently announced two grants from the company totaling more than $1 million. The grants will fund weight management and nutrition initiatives for Hearts Beat Back: The Heart of New Ulm Project (HONU), a research and demonstration project with a goal of reducing heart attacks in New Ulm, Minn.

This innovative initiative has a proven track record. New Ulm Medical Center Electronic Health Record (EHR) two-year data comparing risk factor results for 40-79 year-olds show clear progress in meeting project goals. EHR data trends show improvements that exceed national averages, including:

  • a decrease in the percent of residents with hypertension from 20.6 percent to 17.9 percent;
  • a decrease in the percent of residents with high cholesterol from 10.8 percent to 8.6 percent;
  • a decrease in the percent of residents with high triglycerides from 33.9 percent to 31.9 percent.

"The community of New Ulm has been making significant strides in a variety of risk factor areas, including managing weight, improving their food choices and getting more active, so we're very pleased that these grants will enable us to continue supporting residents in their efforts to live a heart-healthy lifestyle," said Jackie Boucher, vice president of education for the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation. "We are especially encouraged by the trend for weight stabilization at a population level, as it goes against the standard trend of people gaining weight as they age."

"We are excited by the results of The Heart of New Ulm and support it and other projects like the Million Hearts Initiative because we recognize their importance to improving the health of the nation," Kate Rubin, vice president of social responsibility for UnitedHealth Group. "We remain committed to continuously innovating in the fight against cardiovascular disease, and initiatives like these provide exciting opportunities to partner with public and private stakeholders and achieve even greater success. The possibilities are truly amazing."

Weight management and nutrition have been identified as two key areas for improvement among adult residents in the New Ulm community. In 2009 and 2011, HONU conducted free heart health screenings. According to 2009 data, 73 percent were overweight (35 percent) or obese (38 percent). In 2009, only 16 percent ate five or more servings of fruits/vegetables daily; in 2011 this had increased to 25 percent. In 2009, 66 percent were getting the recommended 150 weekly minutes of physical activity; in 2011 this increased to 74 percent.

To address weight management, an $836,000 grant is being used to expand a Community Health Challenge program in New Ulm. "LOSE IT to WIN IT-: Weigh In, New Ulm" will launch in June 2013 and is designed to give everyone the opportunity to be rewarded for making healthful lifestyle choices. The challenge aims to encourage the entire community to come together to support each other in making healthier choices for eating, physical activity and more. Through a secondary grant of $164,000, HONU is conducting an extensive health communications campaign and a social media campaign in New Ulm to promote initiatives that help improve the nutrition environment.

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