food

Newly Introduced Congressional Bill Tackles Obesity

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On May 5, U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.) and several Congressional co-sponsors introduced the "Healthy Choices Act," a bill proposing a comprehensive national approach to addressing the country's obesity crisis.

The bill's many provisions include ones that would align federal food programs with existing governmental nutritional guidelines; make healthy foods affordable and accessible to children and adults most at risk, including rural and low-income urban areas; coordinate the federal response to addressing the obesity crisis (including realigning transportation policy to encourage healthier lifestyles); and provide children and adults with opportunities for physical activity, nutritional information and assessment tools.

Doctors would be provided with tools to diagnose and treat obesity, and funding would be provided to help researchers develop more effective prevention and treatment methods.

One provision falling under the assessment area could raise some privacy concerns: It would require pediatricians to measure the body mass index, or BMI, of school-age children and note this in children's vaccination records.

The bill was unveiled with a Capitol Hill event by Kind and co-sponsors Mary Bono-Mack (R-Calif.), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), together with the Campaign to End Obesity, the American Heart Association, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and YMCA.

Rick Wolford, chairman of GMA's board of directors and chairman, president and CEO of Del Monte Foods, issued a follow-up statement praising the bill's sponsors for creating "sensible, science-based legislation" with a framework that is "both simple and attainable."

The American Beverage Association (ABA) also issued a statement confirming its support of the bill, noting that it addresses "both sides of the energy balance equation" by complementing the industry's School Beverage Guidelines while also providing physical education in schools, nutrition education and improved access to physical activity in communities throughout the country.

"It's refreshing to see legislation introduced that attempts to tackle the complex problem of obesity in a holistic way," the ABA statement added.

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