Team Up 4 Health pilot program changes lives in Southeast Kentucky

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Humana announced today the positive and tangible community impact of Team Up 4 Health, its two-year, health-and-wellness pilot program in Bell County in southeastern Kentucky in partnership with Microclinic International and the Bell County Health Department.

Launched in July 2011, Team Up 4 Health is a first-of-its-kind program in the United States that seeks to curb preventable chronic diseases – heart and kidney disease, cancer, stroke and hypertension, among others – by helping people eat better, exercise more and work together to encourage healthier choices.

Bell County (population: 28,725) was tapped for the pilot because it ranked among the areas with greatest need and residents voiced a desire to try a fresh approach to preventing chronic diseases. Like many states throughout the country, Kentucky has seen an increase in the number of residents with preventable diseases. The Centers for Disease Control noted that Kentucky’s rate of obesity has climbed to 31 percent, five percent above the U.S. average.

Team Up 4 Health is triggering positive change in Bell County. At the end of the pilot program’s first year, 97 percent of program participants registered saw health improvements.

How do they do it? With the help of peer-to-peer influence and the power of community. Participants were grouped in microclinics – a group of two-to-six people who work within their broader social network to achieve individual and collective health goals. Participants worked together to prevent and manage a chronic condition and received fitness and nutrition counseling, watched healthy-cooking demonstrations, and visited grocery stores with nutritionists.

Team Up 4 Health also worked with the Bell County Health Department and community center to create a positive circle of influence and collaboration within the broader community. As a result, one local restaurant changed its menu to offer healthier choices with fresh local ingredients. And Bell County is now home to two new fitness parks, an organic community garden and a pavilion where families gather for celebrations.

The program’s second year, which began in September, promises even greater strides. Twice as many Bell County residents – more than 500 – are participating in the second phase than took part during the first year.