WASHINGTON, D.C. – Late last week, the U.S. Senate passed legislation introduced earlier this year by U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and George V. Voinovich (R-OH) to designate the month of September as National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month – bringing national attention to a growing epidemic among youth in the United States. In addition, the resolution requests that the president issue a proclamation calling on the federal government, states, tribes and localities to observe September with programs that promote healthy eating and physical activity among all ages. The companion resolution, introduced by Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH), will now need to be approved in the House.
“Every New York child deserves the opportunity to reach their full potential. But too many of our children do not have access to the healthy, nutritious meals and exercise opportunities they need to get there,” Sen. Gillibrand said. “I’ve worked hard since day one to rid our schools of the unhealthy foods that hold our children back, and give all schools and families the resources they need to provide healthy, nutritious meals in the lunchroom so our children can succeed in the classroom. I am pleased to partner with First Lady Obama and my colleagues in Congress in this effort. I look forward to continue working with all of them to address this crisis and ensure the health of our future generations.”
“We should do all we can to reduce childhood obesity. Everything from education, exercise and eating right, to having healthy patient-doctor relationships,” Sen. Voinovich said. “I am concerned about the health of kids in our country, especially in some of the rural areas of Ohio. We need a public-private partnership to tackle the obesity crisis and the unhealthy lifestyles that are contributing to the growth of health care costs in America.”
“If we coordinate existing efforts around childhood obesity, just once a year, that momentum could lift us year around. My simple idea has given birth to this resolution, now sponsored by 64 national organizations, and championed by my passionate colleagues in the Senate–Senators Gillibrand and Voinovich,” said Rep. Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH). “I’m proud they added this to their existing work on childhood obesity. Activities planned in September, after the House passes this resolution, are important steps to improving kids’ wellness and educating families about how to live healthier.”
Both senators are pleased that First Lady Michelle Obama is making childhood obesity one of her top priorities. Sens. Gillibrand and Voinovich look forward to working with the White House, administration and other interested parties to reduce childhood obesity. Since the mid-1970s, obesity rates in the United States have increased dramatically for both children and adults, raising concerns about the implications on the health of Americans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate the annual expenditures related to overweight individuals and obesity to be more than $264 billion – exceeding the cost of tobacco-related illnesses. In addition, spending on health care in the United States reached $2.2 trillion or $7,421 a person in 2007, or 16.2 percent spending share of gross domestic product – the largest share ever.