Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In


Press Releases

Twenty Members of Congress Join The Humana Foundation in American Horsepower Challenge to Fight Childhood Obesity

Nationwide initiative will show kids how much fun fitness can be.

Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.

WASHINGTON, DC – March 31, 2009 – The Humana Foundation, philanthropic arm of health-benefits company Humana Inc., is teaming with 20 members of Congress to offer 2,000 U.S. elementary and middle school students a unique exercise/video-game program intended to increase the kids’ activity to improve their health.

Increasing activity at the grade-school level is critical. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has more than tripled over the past two decades. The most recent statistics show that 34 percent of America’s children are overweight. If this trend continues, it could cut two to five years from the average American’s lifespan, according to a study by the American Heart Association, and result in a dramatic increase in already prevalent chronic conditions.

“Childhood obesity is reaching epidemic proportions in the United States, and initiatives like The American Horsepower Challenge teach kids that staying active is a key to staying healthy,” said Mike McCallister, chairman of The Humana Foundation board of directors, and Humana Inc. president and CEO. “For children to add exercise into their daily routine, it has to be fun. Kids love games and computers, so we combined the two.”

The American Horsepower Challenge is part of a trend known as “exergaming” that incorporates real-world movement into video games. For example, this program translates actual physical activity (steps walked) into an online race.

The competition is really two challenges in one:

· Five schools in the same state or Congressional district compete against each other

· States and/or congressional districts compete against each other

Twenty members of Congress have agreed to serve as honorary participants in the Challenge. Their own steps will be counted in their state’s or district’s total. Participating lawmakers include:

Rep. Jason Altmire (PA-4) Rep. Kevin McCarthy (CA-22)

Sen. Max Baucus (MT) Rep. Charlie Melancon (LA-3)

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (OR-3) Rep. Adam Putnam (FL-12)

Rep. Charles Boustany (LA-7) Rep. Mike Rogers (MI-8)

Rep. Ben Chandler (KY-6) Rep. Peter Roskam (IL-6)

Rep. Geoff Davis (KY-4) Rep. John Shadegg (AZ-3)

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (AZ-8) Rep. John Shimkus (IL-19)

Sen. Tom Harkin (IA) Sen. John Thune (SD)

Sen. Blanche Lincoln (AR) Sen. Mark Warner (VA)

Sen. Mel Martinez (FL) Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-20)

“These lawmakers recognize the costs of childhood obesity and are willing to model healthy behavior for the kids in their districts,” McCallister said. “At The Humana Foundation, we believe this initiative will help ensure that lawmakers consider the long-term impact of childhood obesity as they evaluate legislation to address America’s most pressing public health issues.”

About The American Horsepower Challenge

Each of the 100 participating schools will have 20 fifth or sixth graders wear smart pedometers, called ActiPeds, on their shoes to monitor their daily activity for four weeks. The steps will be wirelessly uploaded to <> while the Horsepower game is played. Each participant receives a cartoon horse avatar that joins their teammates on a virtual bus to transport them around the globe. The distance covered by the bus is based on each school’s collective steps.

Representations of real-world landmarks appear along the way providing history and geography lessons. Players also earn the opportunity to dress up their horses with various accessories by taking more steps.

A pilot program at schools in Louisville, Ky., where Humana is based, showed encouraging results. At the end of the challenge:

  • 100 students had walked a collective 6,364 miles, a 13 percent increase over the previous four weeks 
  • 62 percent of the students reported that they exercised more than usual because of the challenge 
  • 53 percent of the students said they got their families to exercise with them 
  • 45 percent of the kids said they even started eating healthier during the challenge

Each participating school will receive pedometers and the wireless router necessary to play the game.

Humana Inc.’s Games for Health team developed The American Horsepower Challenge and works to create new ways for people of all ages to reach new levels of health and well-being through games and technology.

About The Humana Foundation

The Humana Foundation was established in 1981 as the philanthropic arm of Humana Inc., one of the nation’s leading health-benefits companies. The Foundation is located in Louisville, Ky., the site of Humana’s corporate headquarters. The Foundation’s mission is to support charitable activities that promote healthy lives and healthy communities.

About Humana Inc.

Humana Inc., headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, is one of the nation’s largest publicly traded health and supplemental benefits companies, with approximately 10.6 million medical members. Humana is a full-service benefits-solutions company, offering a wide array of health and supplementary benefit plans for employer groups, government programs and individuals.

Over its 48-year history, Humana has consistently seized opportunities to meet changing customer needs. Today, the company is a leader in consumer engagement, providing guidance that leads to lower costs and a better health plan experience throughout its diversified customer portfolio.

More information regarding Humana is available to investors via the Investor Relations page of the company’s Web site at, including copies of: