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ARTICLE Competition Rewards Exercise-Friendly Hairstyles for African-American Women

ATLANTA (Aug. 19, 2011) – UnitedHealthcare and the Bronner Bros. International Hair Show are hosting the second-annual "Hair Fitness" competition for exercise-friendly hairstyles at the International Hair Show Aug. 21 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.


The Hair Fitness competition raises awareness among stylists for the need to balance beauty and health. Stylists will compete to design the most innovative and exercise-friendly hairstyle. The grand-prize-winning stylist will be awarded $5,000, and the winning styles will be publicized nationally. UnitedHealthcare will also offer a free exercise-friendly hair seminar for stylists to learn skills and techniques for creating hairstyles that are easy to maintain and enable women to make exercise an ongoing part of their daily routine.


The event will kick off with the "Styling Healthier Futures" class at 10 a.m. EDT on Sunday, Aug. 21. A Bronner Bros. master hair stylist will demonstrate new tips and exciting techniques for exercise-friendly hair. At 2 p.m., UnitedHealthcare will host Hair Fitness, a contest of exercise-friendly hairstyles. The contest will feature special guests Regina M. Benjamin, M.D., Surgeon General of the United States, along with celebrity hairstylist Elgin Charles, known as the "Emperor of Hair" and star of VH1's Beverly Hills Fabulous, and Amy Hilliard, a prominent African-American entrepreneur and exercise enthusiast.


"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 Dr. Benjamin. "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."


This initiative is inspired by the alarming rates of obesity among African Americans. According to the 2010 edition of America's Health Rankings®, the prevalence of obesity among African Americans exceeds 30 percent in 37 states, which dramatically outpaces obesity rates for Caucasians and poses serious health consequences for those affected. In addition, studies show that many African-American women avoid certain kinds of fitness activities in order to maintain their hairstyle, citing the time and cost involved.


"We want to help African-American women keep their great style and keep fit at the same time," said Reed Tuckson, M.D., executive vice president and chief of medical affairs at UnitedHealth Group. "We recognize that stylists play a powerful, yet often underappreciated, role in the health of their clients, and we hope that by working with them as a group we'll be able to help African-American women everywhere realize they can look beautiful and be active and healthy at the same time."


"I came to align myself with UnitedHealthcare's Hair Fitness initiative, because, while hair is my business, being of service is my passion," said Charles. "There are a disproportionate number of African-American women being diagnosed with serious health conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes when compared to women of other ethnicities. Whatever role hair may be playing in their lifestyle choices, I simply want these beautiful ladies to know that they should not and do not have to let their hair compromise their health."


The Bronner Bros. International Hair Show Hair Fitness competition will include three categories: low-impact workout, which involves little to no sweat and hair maintenance and would require only one shampoo/condition per week; moderate impact workout, which involves modest sweat and hair maintenance and 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 give the audience ideas for clients who are looking to become more active and health conscious, while maintaining their hair regimen at the same time.


About UnitedHealthcare
UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people nationwide live healthier lives by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. The company offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with more than 650,000 physicians and care professionals and 5,000 hospitals nationwide. UnitedHealthcare serves more than 38 million people and is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company.