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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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