Health and fitness legislation reflects the obesity epidemic.
The dangers of sedentary living are making headlines, and government entities are taking notice. Political ideology has its place, but execution is even better. Here’s an update on health- and fitness-related legislative action and advocacy.
The Obesity Prevention Act (H.R. 2227). Introduced by Representative Mike Castle (R-DE), this bill encourages school- and community-based activities that help reduce weight gain among children. If the bill passes, a new commission on obesity treatment and prevention will create a federal nutrition and fitness program and $30 million a year in grants will be awarded at the state and local levels. Status at time of publication: Referred to the House Subcommittee on Education Reform.
The Workforce Health Improvement Program (WHIP) Act (H.R. 1818 and S. 1491). Introduced in the House by Representative Patrick Toomey (R-PA) and in the Senate by Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), this bill proposes that employers be allowed to deduct the cost of health club memberships for their employees. Status at time of publication: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means and the Senate Committee on Finance.
The Improved Nutrition and Physical Activity (IMPACT) Act (H.R. 716 and S. 1172). Introduced in the House by Representative Mary Bono (R-CA) and in the Senate by Senator Bill Frist (R-TN), this bill, if enacted, will fund health services to improve nutrition, increase physical activity and prevent obesity. Status at time of publication: Referred to the House Subcommittee on Health. Sent to the full Senate.
The Eating Disorders Awareness, Prevention and Education Act of 2003 (H.R. 873). Introduced by Representative Judy Biggert (R-IL), this bill aims to raise awareness and create educational programs about eating disorders. Status at time of publication: Referred to the House Subcommittee on Education Reform.
House Concurrent Resolution 34 (H.C.R. 34). Introduced by Representative Karen McCarthy (D-MO), this resolution urges private health insurance companies to take a proactive role in promoting healthy lifestyles. Status at time of publication: Referred to the House Subcommittee on Health.
House Concurrent Resolution 76 (H.C.R. 76). Introduced by Representative Patrick Tiberi (R-OH), this resolution recognizes the health risks associated with childhood obesity and encourages parents to promote healthy weight and increased physical activity in their children. Status at time of publication: Referred to the House Subcommittee on Health.
YMCA Healthy Teen Act (S. 1201). Introduced by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), this bill seeks to promote healthy lifestyles through grants to the YMCA to help prevent unhealthy, risky behaviors among teenage youth. Status at time of publication: Referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.
- Health Promotion Advocates, a “diverse coalition of individuals and organizations committed to good health,” is championing the Health Promotion FIRST Act, not yet introduced in Congress. The proposed legislation would provide approximately $99 million over 5 years to enhance the basic and applied science of health promotion. For information, go to www.healthpromotion advocates.org.
- New York State Assemblyman Felix Ortiz has proposed legislation that would tax junk food, video games and television commercials and use the income to fund physical and nutrition education programs. His colleagues Assemblyman James Tedisco and Senator Hugh Farley are pushing NY-FIT (New York Fitness Income Tax Credit), which would extend a $500 tax credit to individuals who purchase exercise equipment or join a health club.
- The California Childhood Obesity Prevention Act of 2003 sets nutrition standards for all beverages sold to students in elementary, middle and junior high schools. Effective July 1, 2004, the new law permits the sale of only healthy beverages—water, milk, 100 percent fruit juices, and fruit-based drinks with no less than 50 percent fruit juice and no added sweeteners.