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Recogniing September as Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

* Mr. CLEAVER. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in recognition of September as Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, thirty-two percent of children and adolescents in the U.S. are overweight. According to this study, sixteen percent of children and adolescents in the U.S. are obese, meaning they have a body mass index in the ninety-fifth percentile. In my home state of Missouri, almost thirty-four percent of children are obese and overweight. Sadly, the childhood obesity rate is growing, doubling over the last two decades, while the obesity rate for adolescents has nearly tripled over the last two decades.

* These staggering increases in obesity are leading to a number of health problems among America's youth. Incidents of type two diabetes and hypertension are on the rise, and more children today are at risk of heart disease, cancer, and stroke. It has been estimated that one out of three males, and two out of five females born in the year 2000 will eventually suffer from type two diabetes.

* The obesity epidemic hits some communities harder than others, greatly impacting our more vulnerable communities. Studies have shown that these children are more likely to suffer from obesity and the related health problems. Low income areas have far fewer parks and sidewalks than wealthier communities, and children from these neighborhoods have less opportunity to play ball, ride bikes, or run outside. Children who live in lower income neighborhoods also have less access to fresh produce and healthy foods. Children living in food deserts are not able to consume healthier foods as often as they should, relying more on processed and high calorie foods for their meals.

* Mr. Speaker, it is essential that this Congress work to improve access to healthy food for all Americans. We need to teach our young healthy eating habits, promote physical activity, and increase access to fresh foods by encouraging supermarkets to open in the urban core, and embracing farmers markets and urban farming. Obesity is a costly epidemic. Not only does it drastically increase health care spending, totaling fourteen billion dollars a year, but it greatly reduces the health and prosperity of our children. I would also like to commend the hard work being done by Children's Mercy Hospital in bringing awareness to this issue. I urge my colleagues to stand with me in support of Childhood Obesity Awareness Month.

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