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"Hair Fitness" Focuses On Blacks And Obesity

 MINNEAPOLIS, MN -- --Initiative designed to remove critical barrier to exercise --Will recruit 60,000 African American stylists to the fight against obesity

UnitedHealthcare has launched an innovative collaboration with the Bronner Brothers International Hair Show to enroll 60,000 stylist attendees in the fight against obesity. Recognizing that data show many African American women avoid certain fitness activities in order to maintain their hairstyle, the initiative will feature the first-ever exercise-friendly hair competition, designed to remove hairstyle-related barriers to physical activity for women.

The initiative kicked off today with "Hair Fitness," a contest of exercise-friendly hair styles, and remarks by Regina M. Benjamin, Surgeon General of the United States, at the Bronner Brothers International Hair Show at the Georgia World Congress Center.

This initiative is inspired by the alarming rates of obesity in the African American population. According to the 2009 edition of America's Health Rankings, the prevalence of obesity among African Americans exceeds 30% in 35 states, which dramatically outpaces the corresponding obesity rates for Caucasians. In addition, studies show that many African American women avoid certain kinds of fitness activities in order to maintain a particular hairstyle, particularly given the time and cost involved.

"We want to help African American women with innovative, easy ways they can keep their great style and keep fit," said Reed Tuckson, M.D., executive vice president and chief of medical affairs at UnitedHealth Group. "We applaud the Bronner Brothers, who are an institution within the African American community, and the 60,000 stylists that attend their annual hair show for becoming key partners in the fight for the health of this community."

"As the Surgeon General of the United States, my number one goal is to improve the health of the nation and I'm proud to join with First Lady Michelle Obama to attack this problem head-on," said Regina M. Benjamin, MD, MBA and the 18th Surgeon General of the United States. "I know first hand the important role salons play in our African American culture. I look forward to being an honorary judge of the Hair Fitness competition and to sharing the lessons we learn from this throughout the nation."

"As a fitness instructor, ESPN commentator and President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports appointee, I am well aware of the importance of physical activity to overall health and the fight against obesity," said Donna Richardson Joyner. "I look forward to participating in this unique event and plan to share the results with colleagues and women around the country."

The Bronner Brothers International Hair Show "Hair Fitness" competition will include three categories: low impact workout, which involves little to no sweat and hair maintenance would require only one shampoo/condition per week; moderate impact workout, which involves modest sweat and hair maintenance would require 1-2 shampoo/conditions per week; and high impact, which involves profuse sweating and would require 2-3 shampoo/conditions per week. The stylists will be judged on the technical execution of the styles, originality, suitability and head contour, and new ideas. The hair show will allow the audience to get ideas for clients who are looking to become more active and health conscious, while maintaining their hair regimen at the same time.

The National Black Women's Health and Beauty Conference and "Hair Fitness" competition at the Bronner Brothers International Hair Show is part of an on-going UnitedHealthcare campaign for health and fitness among the African American community. UnitedHealthcare has accumulated "Hair Fitness" styling tips from celebrity stylists around the country that will continue to educate African American about the importance of exercising while still being able to maintain their hair.



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