Improving Childhood Nutrition

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is committed reducing childhood obesity, unveiling her plan to ban trans fats in school and provide healthier school lunches.  As the first New York Senator in 40 years to sit on the Senate Agriculture Committee, Senator Gillibrand is providing New Yorkers with a seat at the table as congress debates how to improve the health of children and the food they eat each day.  From her seat on the Committee, Senator Gillibrand is working to secure more federal funds for New York State to combat childhood obesity and lower health care costs.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over the last 30 years, obesity among American children ages six to 11 has more than doubled - from 6.5 percent to 17 percent. In the same timeframe, obesity among 12 to 19-year-olds has more than tripled - from five percent to nearly 18 percent.

Studies show that the most effective way to prevent obesity is to address it during childhood by instilling healthy habits. Obesity puts children at risk of developing serious diseases, including Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and other conditions like depression. Obesity keeps children from performing their best at school. Studies show that being overweight or obese can have a negative effect on math and reading scores - and keeps students out of school for more sick days. According to a recent study by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, performance on standardized tests is strongly correlated to physical fitness levels.

Senator Gillibrand's new county-by-county report on New York obesity rates.

Nearly 60 percent of New York adults are overweight or obese, according to a county-by-county report released by Senator Gillibrand's office today.

Today, Senator Gillibrand unveiled her comprehensive plan to address obesity for the long term and help New York children lead long, successful, healthy lives.

Ban Trans Fats from School Meals

Senator Gillibrand is authoring legislation that would ban trans-fats in public schools.  Any school that receives federal reimbursements would be required to remove food containing trans fat from the school.  Schools would have a five year window to implement the policy.  The legislation would also include waivers for pre-existing contracts and special circumstances.

New York City has been the national leader on this issue, banning trans fat in restaurants and phasing trans fats our of public schools. Now, Senator Gillibrand's legislation will set the rest of the state and the rest of the country on the same path - ensuring that children are more likely to consume fresh fruits, vegetables, and other nutritious foods.

Eliminate Junk Food and Snacks from Schools

Senator Gillibrand is working on legislation that would expand USDA authority to regulate all food served in schools, including vending machines. Working with Senator Tom Harkin, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Senator Gillibrand is pushing legislation that would force all food served on school grounds during school hours to meet federal nutritional standards. This legislation will strengthen regulations to enable the USDA to eliminate sugary sodas and candy from school during school hours, so that children are more likely to eat the fruits, vegetables, and other nutritious food served in cafeterias.

Increase Federal Reimbursement Rate for the National School Lunch Program.

The current reimbursement rates schools receive do not even keep pace with the rate of inflation. With the Child Nutrition Act set to expire this year, Senator Gillibrand will work to increase school reimbursements by 70 cents - from $2.68 per meal to $3.38 per meal - helping schools afford healthier meals. By providing more funding for school lunches, schools would have more resources to improve the nutritional content of meals and provide more fresh fruits and vegetables to children.

Senator Gillibrand's plan would also provide targeted relief to high cost areas like New York City and other communities around the state, including Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Ulster, Orange, Putnam, Rockland and Dutchess Counties.  In the coming weeks, she will announce new legislation that addresses the unique challenges to schools in high cost areas.

Increase Exercise Opportunities for Children, Improve Preventive Care to Combat Childhood Obesity

The Improved Nutrition and Physical Activity Act - the IMPACT Act - would invest $60 million to provide grants for community-based health centers and organizations to help communities at high risk of fostering obesity. The investment would help jumpstart more physical activity and better nutrition to keep our kids active, healthy, and on track for the bright future they deserve.

Additionally, the IMPACT Act would invest $10 million to provide training grants to health profession students to help them recognize and properly deal with overweight, obesity and eating disorders. It would also provide direct help for those suffering from these disorders.