Concerned about the increasing number of children developing obesity and weight-related illnesses and conditions, U.S. Senators Mark Udall and Al Franken this week introduced The Healthy Kids from Day One Act to help tackle this serious health problem. The bill would create a pilot program to encourage child-care centers to develop programs based on proven techniques that will help instill healthy habits in children from birth to age 5.
"With the number of obese children reaching epidemic levels, we can't afford not to address this serious health problem head-on -- and we need to start when kids are very young," Senator Udall said. "This is a preventable problem. It's as simple as helping kids develop habits that will make them healthier, happier adults. My bill would help find ways to encourage kids to spend less time in front of the TV, and more time active and having fun. And the lessons we learn from this pilot will be invaluable as we move forward on a national strategy to combat childhood obesity."
"We can't expect kids to make the right decisions unless we start teaching them judgment on Day One," Senator Franken said. "Minnesotans know that nothing is more important than the health of our children. But childhood obesity is an economic problem as well as a health concern. This bill will help our kids avoid the physical and financial burdens of obesity. It's just the right thing to do for them."
Obesity rates are reaching epidemic levels in the U.S., particularly among children. One in three kids is either overweight or obese -- a remarkable increase from the 4 percent of their 1960s counterparts. Not only can childhood obesity lead to potentially fatal health issues such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, but it lessens their quality of life and makes health care much costlier. By 2018, the average obese person will pay $8,315 a year in medical bills compared to $5,855 for an adult at a healthy weight. That's a difference of $2,460, or a 42 percent increase.
To address the problem, Senators Udall and Franken are proposing to build on the new prevention and wellness provisions of the health insurance reform act passed into law this year. Their bill would create three-year pilot programs in five states focused on encouraging child-care centers to develop evidence-based obesity-prevention programs targeted at children ages birth to 5 years. States would work with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on approaches to get kids to be more physically active, eat healthier, and spend less time at sedentary activities. Key Elements of the Healthy Kids from Day One Act
New Pilots: The bill would create three-year pilot programs in five states to focus on combating obesity among young children. States will work with the Department of Health and Human Services to develop programs to:
* Help child-care centers promote physical activity.
* Create healthier eating environments.
* Limit the amount of time children spend in front of the TV or other digital screens.