Programs aimed at helping prevent childhood obesity got a big boost when the U.S. Senate passed the Improved Nutrition and Physical Activity Act (IMPACT) last December. The bill aims at reducing obesity, particularly among children and adolescents, by encouraging better nutrition and more physical activity.
“This legislation takes a balanced, comprehensive and innovative approach to increase public awareness about how nutrition, physical fitness and a healthy lifestyle can lower the risks associated with obesity and improve the overall health of our nation,” said U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, one of the bill’s cosponsors.
If passed in the House of Representatives and signed into law, the bill would:
- Add obesity, being overweight and eating disorders to the list of priority conditions to be addressed by Title VII training grants; and provide funds for the training of health professionals in proper methods of diagnosing, treating and preventing these conditions.
- Authorize $60 million in fiscal year 2004 to be used as funds for community organizations that conduct a variety of activities known to be effective in curbing obesity and eating disorders. These activities would focus on providing specific com- munity interventions, school-based curricula and programs for health care delivery systems.
- Provide additional authority for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to collect information regarding fitness levels and energy expenditure among children.
- Allow states to use Preventive Services Block Grant money for community education on improved nutrition and increased physical activity in addition to other current alternatives.
As of press time, the bill was before committee in the House of Representatives awaiting debate. A spokeswoman from the office of Senator Jeff Bingaman, one of the act’s cosponsors, said that the senator is optimistic about the possibility of the bill passing this next test, since it already has sponsors in the House.