April 16, 2008

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Joins Second Annual National Walk @ Lunch Day, April 30

Insurer challenges employers to participate and encourage employee fitness

On Wednesday, April 30, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana employees will join thousands of Americans across the country by participating in the second annual National Walk @ Lunch DaySM. With Louisiana ranked 12th in the nation in adult obesity and first in deaths from cancer and diabetes, the company is challenging employers statewide to participate in this lunchtime fitness event and to encourage employees to add more physical activity to their daily routines.

Most Americans' schedules are built around their workdays, so National Walk @ Lunch Day is designed to complement - not compete with - their busy lifestyles. Blue Cross' National Walk @ Lunch Day event will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. outside the company's Baton Rouge headquarters, moving inside in case of rain. Leading the event will be President and CEO Gery Barry and Debra Roth, a Blue Cross e-communications specialist who was the "biggest loser" in the company's 2007 weight-loss challenge.

More than 800 employees walked during last year's inaugural Walk @ Lunch Day event, including employees at the company's eight district offices statewide. Blue Cross has been a leader in recognizing and promoting the health benefits of incorporating walking into employees' daily activities.

"There is no topic more important and vital to us than wellness," said Barry. "Wellness and prevention benefit each of us as individuals as well as benefiting our company by decreasing claims expense."

Blue Cross joins this national walking effort as part of its ongoing statewide campaign to educate Louisianians about fitness and motivate them to make healthier lifestyle choices. The company has introduced the Louisiana 2 Step program and 2 Step 4 Kids to encourage Louisianians of all ages to take two small daily steps toward better health: eat right and move more.

Walking is one of the easiest and most effective exercises, and almost everyone can do it. For more information on the benefits of walking, visit Learn more about the Louisiana 2 Step at The 2 Step 4 Kids website is at

Obesity is our state's No. 1 health problem, and Louisiana ranks 12th in the nation in adult obesity. Obesity-related diseases account for nearly half of Louisiana's healthcare budget, and nearly 1 in 3 Louisiana school-aged children is overweight or obese. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that getting 30 minutes of moderate physical activity - such as a brisk walk - at least five times a week can lower a person's risk of developing or dying from cardiovascular disease, hypertension or type 2 diabetes and improve the health of muscles, bones and joints. 

"National Walk @ Lunch Day is designed to educate millions of consumers about how their daily decisions can have an impact on their health and well-being. It also creates an opportunity for employers to engage their employees in physical activity that promotes a healthier workplace environment," said Scott Serota, president and CEO of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

"Better informed and more physically active consumers also can mean fewer serious health problems down the road, which helps better control the rising cost of healthcare in our nation," Serota said.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is Louisiana-owned and -operated. Marking its 74th anniversary this year, the company is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. It is a tax-paying mutual company, owned by its policyholders. Headquartered in Baton Rouge, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana also has district offices in Alexandria, Houma, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Monroe, New Orleans and Shreveport. The company's subsidiaries include HMO Louisiana, Inc. and Southern National Life Insurance Company, Inc.