December 11, 2003  


Granger Lauds Senate Passage of Bill to Reduce Child Obesity


Congresswoman Kay Granger (R – Fort Worth) praised her Senate colleagues for passing comprehensive legislation aimed at reducing obesity, particularly among children and adolescents, called the "Improved Nutrition and Physical Activity Act," or "IMPACT Act." In February 2003, Granger and Rep. Mary Bono (R – CA) introduced the House companion to the Senate bill.

"This bill has generated bicameral, bipartisan support, and I applaud the Senate’s decision to move forward with programs that encourage youth to pursue healthy lifestyles," said Granger. "This is a good step in my work to improve children’s eating habits and increase exercise."

The IMPACT Act recognizes significant problems associated with obesity including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer; the bill works to reduce those problems by encouraging better nutrition and more physical activity.

The IMPACT Act was introduced in the Senate by Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), and Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) earlier this year.

"Today the Senate has taken a key step to address one of the nation’s fastest growing health care epidemics," said Frist. "Obesity is for the most part preventable; yet in the last 30 years, we’ve continued to see increasing rates of obesity among children and adults. 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."

Over 60 percent of U.S. adults and 13 percent of children are estimated to be overweight, and an estimated 300,000 deaths per year are associated with being overweight or obese. The prevalence of obesity is increasing among all age groups. There are twice the number of overweight children and three times the number of overweight adolescents as there were 30 years ago.

Being overweight or obese brings an increased risk for heart disease and cancer – the two leading causes of death. Being overweight or obese also increases risk for diabetes and musculo-skeletal disorders, such as osteoarthritis.

This legislation would:

• Add obesity, being overweight, and eating disorders to the list of priority conditions to be addressed by health professions Title VII training grants and train practicing health professionals about proper methods to diagnose, treat and prevent obesity, and eating disorders.

• Authorize $60 million in fiscal year 2004 to create a demonstration program that funds community organizations to conduct a variety of activities, which have demonstrated some benefit for curbing obesity and eating disorders, with $5 million being allocated to eating disorder activities during that period. These programs focus on providing specific community interventions, school-based activities, and health care delivery system programs, while focusing on education, outreach, and intervention techniques.

• Provide additional authority for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to collect information regarding fitness levels and energy expenditure among children. • Direct the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality in the Department of Health and Human Services to review any new information relating to obesity trends among various sub-populations and include such information, where it is relevant, in its health disparities report.

• Allow states to use their Preventive Services Block Grant money for community education on improved nutrition and increased physical activity. State block grants can be use for a variety of purposes, and this section only adds obesity to the list of alternatives. States still decide how to use their block grants.

• Instruct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to report on what research has been conducted on obesity treatment and prevention, what has been learned from this research, and what future research should be conducted. Given that obesity research is conducted in several agencies and institutes, this study will assist in collating the results of this research and coordinating departmental research in the future.

• Ask the Secretary of Health and Human Services to report on its effectiveness in changing children’s behaviors and reducing obesity, given the widespread use of the Youth Media Campaign.

The House version of the IMPACT Act has been referred to three committees: Ways and Means, Agriculture, and Energy and Commerce.