February 12, 2003  


Granger, Bono Introduce Measure to Combat Obesity


Congresswomen Kay Granger (R-TX) and Mary Bono (R-CA) today introduced comprehensive legislation aimed at reducing obesity, particularly among children and adolescents. The Improved Nutrition and Physical Activity (IMPACT) Act recognizes the serious health issues that arise from obesity and seeks to reduce those problems by using proven and innovative programs to encourage healthier lifestyles.

"Obesity is one of our most preventable public health problems, but it is also one of our fastest rising, affecting every segment of our population," said Representative Granger. "Poor nutrition and physical inactivity don't simply cause cosmetic harm. Obesity directly increases the risk of deadly diseases and drains valuable resources from our health care system."

The prevalence of obesity is increasing among all age groups. Government statistics show that almost 65 percent of adults in the U.S. weigh too much; about 31 percent are obese, which is 30 or more pounds over a healthy weight. There are twice the number of overweight children and three times the number of overweight adolescents as there were 30 years ago.

Texas is no exception to the national trend. Four Lone Star cities are ranked in the top sixteen fattest cities, with Houston leading the pack for the third year in a row. A recent study by the University of North Texas found that 28 percent of fifth-graders at 17 ethnically diverse Fort Worth elementary schools were overweight.

Nationally, 13 percent of children are overweight. Overweight individuals have an increased risk for the two leading causes of death in our country, heart disease and cancer. These individuals also have an increased risk for diabetes and musculo-skeletal disorders, such as osteoarthritis. An estimated 300,000 deaths per year are associated with being overweight or obese.

Given the many health risks associated with obesity, the IMPACT Act would fund several strategies with demonstrable success in improving diet and lifestyle. The bill would increase training for health professionals to diagnose, treat, and prevent obesity. It would also provide funding to states and communities to help them create nutrition programs, increase recreational options, and raise public awareness about the health risks of being overweight.

The IMPACT Act represents a commonsense approach to reverse the obesity epidemic," said Representative Granger. "Better information, improved nutrition, and increased physical activity can help make us a leaner, healthier America."