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Mr. KIND. I thank my friend for yielding me time.
In response to my good friend from Utah, I know his belief is sincere, but just to be clear with this legislation before us, we are not mandating that schools and school districts have to offer physical education, merely informing parents and the community what physical activity and what physical education courses are being provided today. And we are very careful in that.
But there is a very simple concept behind the FIT Kids legislation before us today, and that is this: studies have shown that it is hard to develop a
healthy mind without a healthy body. And as my good friend from Tennessee (Mr. Wamp) has been fond of saying, one of the best antidepressants ever invented in the entire world is just good old-fashioned sweat. That is what we are up against with the childhood obesity epidemic that is ravaging our country and our youth today, the onset of early childhood type 2 juvenile diabetes, cardiovascular disease.
Close to 75 percent of kids today are on the verge of being overweight. We know that 80 percent of them will be overweight in adult life if something isn't done to preempt that at a much sooner level. That is what's behind the movement towards the FIT Kids legislation. It is an attempt to try to emphasize physical activity and physical education courses back in our schools today.
Why is this important? Again, part of the reason, as Mr. Wamp pointed out, is that with the advent of No Child Left Behind, various courses that were offered in the past are being squeezed. Arts is being dropped, and physical education, especially, is one of those courses that is viewed more and more as a discretionary item rather than something that is necessary to enhance our own child's performance in the classroom. We know that when kids are more physically active, they tend to perform better in schools, test scores go up, there is less disciplinary programs, graduation rates go up, and their overall health improves--all worthy goals that we need to be encouraging and supporting more of throughout the Nation.
But today, only 4 percent of elementary schools, 8 percent of middle schools, 2 percent of high schools even provide daily physical education in their schools. Twenty-two percent of schools don't require students to take physical education at all, and that number is growing. Sixty-two percent of children don't receive any physical activity outside of school hours, and schools are providing less and fewer physical activity opportunities.
What FIT Kids will do is work to ensure that kids are active during the school day and are taught from an early age the benefits of living an active and healthy lifestyle. The bill will have schools make information available to parents and communities about the type of physical education being provided to students for each grade in relation to the recommended amounts established by the CDC, as well as information on the importance of living healthy and active lifestyles.
It will enact a National Resources Council study through the National Academy of Sciences to figure out the best way to incorporate physical activity in the school day and study the relationship between physical activity and cognitive development and academic achievement where there is a dearth of research being provided today. And it will make available best practices for innovative and successful physical education programs and policies at the State and local levels so schools and school districts are not being asked to recreate the wheel trying to figure out what works and what doesn't. There are many model programs that already exist that we can help share through the modeling of best practices and get that information out to empower more schools and therefore more families.
Ultimately, and I would agree with my friend from Utah, it really does come down to personal responsibility, for us to take more personal control over our own healthy lifestyle decisions. We all know what we all need to be doing a better job of--eating healthier, exercising more, not smoking, and especially for us parents, to work much closer and earlier with our children at the earliest possible age to help them develop the good lifestyle decisions that will continue throughout their life. And that will mean, from time to time, unplugging them from the technology that so many of our kids are addicted to. I have two little boys at home myself.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman's time has expired.
Mr. SABLAN. Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman 1 additional minute.
Mr. KIND. I know the power that technology holds over our kids today from XBoxes and TiVos and cell phones and BlackBerrys and all, but it is also leading to a more sedentary lifestyle, increasing the childhood obesity epidemic. It is up to us parents working in the home, providing a good model of care and working with our kids to establish these good practices.
Again, I want to thank my colleagues, Mr. Wamp and Mr. Inslee, for being original sponsors of the legislation, the gentlelady from Illinois (Mrs. Biggert), who is also a cosponsor of this bill. I want to thank Chairman Miller and the members of the Education and Labor Committee for the hearings and the attention brought to it. I also want to thank the over 50 organizations that have endorsed this legislation, such as the American Heart Association, the NFL Players Association with their Play 60 campaign, the National Association of Sport and Physical Education, the American Diabetes Association, the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association; the first lady, Michele Obama, along with the President, that has elevated the cause of children's health to new levels and new attention in this country; my own staff person, Shannon Glynn, who has worked tirelessly on this bill; and not least, Richard Simmons, who has been a tireless advocate promoting FIT Kids throughout the Nation, testifying here in Congress, appearing before press conferences, on Jay Leno, on David Letterman, and visiting hundreds and hundreds of schools every year for his life mission of promoting healthy living habits for not just adults, but especially the children in our lives. I thank Richard Simmons for his leadership and his tireless advocacy on FIT Kids.
I ask my colleagues to support it. It's the right thing to do, it's the right step, more needs to be done. This is a good place to start.
Mrs. BIGGERT. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 1585, the Fitness Integrated with Teaching Kids Act, or the FIT Kids Act. I want to thank my good friends, Congressman RON KIND of Wisconsin and Congressman ZACH WAMP of Tennessee, for sponsoring this piece of legislation and for their tireless work to reduce childhood obesity.
Childhood obesity is an issue that has now reached epidemic proportions in the United States. In 2008, 17 percent of children between the ages of 2 and 19 were obese and approximately 70 to 80 percent of overweight or obese children remain obese in adulthood. Unfortunately, these obese children are more likely to develop diseases such as high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
As we all know, both diet and exercise are important to the maintenance of a healthy weight. Unfortunately, most of today's children live sedentary lifestyles; in fact, less than one-third of high school students currently meet recommended levels of physical activity. The FIT Kids Act requires States and localities to provide information to parents and families on the importance of a healthy lifestyle, including eating habits, physical education, and physical activity. It does not require physical education in schools.
School districts would also collect information on how schools are promoting good nutrition and physical activity, whether the school has an age-appropriate physical education curriculum, the amount of time that students spend in physical education, a description of the facilities available for PE, and information on any local health and wellness councils. And, finally, the bill would authorize the National Research Council and the Department of Education to conduct two important studies on physical activity.
As a cosponsor of H.R. 1585, I believe that physical education will play an important role in attacking the childhood obesity crisis that is negatively impacting our young people. And we will also learn, as we are learning more about the brain, how PE in school really helps to develop that brain.
When I was in the Illinois General Assembly, I worked really hard to ensure that the schools in the State of Illinois had access to daily physical education. I am proud to say that Illinois still has a mandatory PE requirement for all elementary and secondary students in school, and it really is the only State that has mandatory PE.
I have also had the privilege of working with the local Naperville, Illinois, chapter of the nonprofit organization PE4life, whose mission it is to inspire
active, healthy living by advancing the development of daily health- and wellness-based physical education programs for all children, not just for those who are athletically inclined.
Now, I went over there, and I rode a bicycle, racing against these kids--the kind of bicycles where you see this road before you, and you've got to stay on it, and these kids are whipping along, and I'm falling off the edge of the road; but this is the kind of thing that's fun for kids to do in order to learn a healthy lifestyle.
The other thing that something like PE4life does is it tracks their fitness from the time they get on those bicycles in September to the time they get off a lot of these machines in order to see how they have become personally more fit, and it inspires them to care about their nutrition and everything. So it is my hope that other States will follow Illinois' lead by making physical education a priority in all of their schools.
So, once again, I want to highlight the excellent work of Congressman Kind and Congressman Wamp on this important piece of legislation, and I hope that we will begin the work of dramatically reducing childhood obesity.
I urge all of my colleagues to support H.R. 1585, the FIT Kids Act, and I yield back the balance of my time.
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