The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation is providing several million dollars in matching grant funding to Louisiana communities to address the problem of obesity.

The company is partnering with the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, which will administer the grant program, called “Challenge for a Healthier Louisiana,” according to a news release from Blue Cross.

The grant program will offer matching financial assistance to nonprofit organizations for projects that “promote healthy eating, active living and environmental change,” according to the news release.

The Blue Cross Foundation encourages nonprofits to partner with local municipalities, school districts, universities, hospitals, research centers and/or chambers of commerce.

The Blue Cross Foundation will award grants ranging from $250,000 to $1 million.

Applicants must provide at least a one-to-one match in funding. For more information, visit

Webcast to provide latest autism news

The Center for Autism and Related Disorders in Tarzana, Calif., has launched a free, daily webcast that provides access to up-to-the-minute news about autism and its treatment.

With the trademarked name of “Skills Live,” the webcast can be seen every weekday from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. (CST) by going to and clicking on “Watch Now.”

Viewers will also be able to submit questions to autism experts.

Skills Live is part of a web-based program, Skills, designed to provide assessments for children with autism and related disorders, as well as behavioral treatment programs and progress-tracking data.

For more information about the Center for Autism and Related Disorders’ Skills program, visit

Cessation program shows good results

Since it began in October 2010, a one-on-one tobacco cessation counseling program for cancer patients, offered by the Cancer Program of Our Lady of the Lake and Mary Bird Perkins, has helped 34 people or 43 percent of those enrolled to quit using tobacco.

The statistic is above average, considering that the national average quitting rate for person-to-person counseling is 25 percent, according to a news release from the Cancer Program.

Its “Ready to Quit?” program was created a year ago for patients who are identified as tobacco users at admission and also those referred by their health-care professionals.

Since the program began last fall, the Cancer Program has screened 256 patients for Ready to Quit? and, of those screened, 100 have chosen to enroll.

The program is offered free to cancer patients and is also available free to family members or persons living with the patients, according to the Cancer Program.