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Fitness Integrated With Teaching Kids Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

* Mr. KIND. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of the bipartisan Fitness Integrated with Teaching (FIT) Kids Act, H.R. 1585, legislation I authored with my colleague, Representative Zach Wamp. Throughout my time in Congress, I have taken a special interest in ensuring our nation's youth live healthy, active lives. The FIT Kids Act focuses on getting physical education back into schools and has the support of over 50 organizations in addition to bipartisan support in the House.

* With one in three children in this country being classified as overweight or obese it is clear that childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions. Our kids are living increasingly sedentary lives, not enjoying the wonders of the outdoors or being active. As opposed to going outside, they stay indoors, sit in front of the television and play video games. In Wisconsin alone, 25 percent of children watch three or more hours of television a day and 20 percent play video games or use a computer for means other than school work three or more hours per day. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children participate in 60 minutes of physical activity daily. Since kids spend a majority of their time at school, it is clear that schools must be involved as we work to get kids moving.

* This is especially true when it is considered that for children ages 9-13, an age that kids should be at their most active, 61.5 percent don't receive any physical activity outside of school hours. Even more disturbing, only 3.8 percent of elementary schools, 7.9 percent of middle schools, and 2.1 percent of high schools provide daily physical education and 22 percent do not require students to take any physical education. The rise in childhood obesity correlates with the removal of physical education from schools over the past two decades and a decline in routine physical activity.

* Of all the deaths from major chronic diseases, 23 percent are linked to sedentary lifestyles that today begin in early childhood. This is backwards; we need to ensure that our nation's youth learn the merits of living active lifestyles starting at an early age, not how to live inactive lives. It is true that you can't have a healthy mind without a healthy body. Study after study have shown that active children perform better on tests and are more focused and driven during the school day. With the advance in technology and the changing society we live in, it may be true that today's kids will never be as active as they were in the past. However, we can provide them with quality physical education that will teach them the immense benefits to living an active life beginning at an early age.

* The FIT Kids Act will get kids moving during the day again and help them learn how to live healthy, active lifestyles. The bill will provide information to parents and communities on the amount of physical education being offered in schools measured against the most recent national recommendations. Also, it will require that school districts provide parents with information on healthy living because schools can only solve so much of this problem. This information increases awareness of entire families and communities about opportunities for physical activity and how best to live healthy lives. Providing parents and caregivers with this information is imperative to ensure that they are making healthy choices at home.

* In addition to providing information to parents and communities, the bill enacts a National Research Council Study on the types of physical education offered in schools and various and innovative means that schools successfully employ physical education in order to get students active. Additionally, there will finally be a comprehensive study regarding the relationship between cognitive development, academic achievement and physical education and fitness. The cost of the study will be minimal and the benefits substantial. While some studies have indicated that physical activity and education lead to better academic achievement, including a study most recently conducted by the CDC, the study in this bill would provide definitive evidence of the importance of movement and exercise to cognitive development and future productivity.

* Lastly, this bill will make available to state education agencies and local education agencies best practices on innovative physical education and physical activity policies and programs at the state and local level while identifying common challenges in implementing physical education and barriers for meeting the DC recommendations for physical education.

* I am so proud that the FIT Kids Act made it to the floor today. With all of the great things the First Lady has been doing to stop childhood obesity and all of the historical private and public partnerships that are currently being formed throughout the country, the timing is perfect for us to address the lack of physical education being provided in schools. I want to give a special thanks to my colleague, Zach Wamp, for all of his tireless work supporting this bill. I would also like to thank Chairman Miller for his devotion to the concepts and goals of the FIT Kids Act. The American Heart Association, the National Association for Sports and Physical Education, the American Diabetes Association, and the National Football League with their Play 60 campaign, all support the FIT Kids Act and advocated for its passage.

* And, last but certainly not least, I want to thank Richard Simmons. For nearly four decades, Richard has helped millions of Americans lose weight, tirelessly working with overweight adults, teaching them to adopt a lifestyle of balance, moderate eating and exercise. Most recently, he has changed his focus from adults to children, traveling to over 200 schools last year. A leading advocate for the FIT Kids Act, Richard has praised the bill at schools, on television, and at speaking events around the country. His successful grassroots campaign in favor of the bill flooded congressional offices with letters urging support of the bill. As we pass the FIT Kids Act today, it serves as a testament to Richard's tenacious advocacy to make our children healthy again.

* The benefits of getting physical activity back into schools are so great that it is something we need to come together and commit to. Routine physical education is a proven way to lower children's body mass index, increase students' attention and attentiveness during the day, and improve kids' academic scores. Let's pass this bill to ensure that we don't continue spending $147 billion annually on obesity related medical expenses or have more of our population suffer from chronic diseases, harming their quality of life and economic output. We need to commit to providing children with the foundations and knowledge to make healthy choices and live active lives; the FIT Kids Act puts us on the path toward doing this.


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