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Udall Renews Effort to get Young People Active Amid Rising Obesity

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As the number of children with obesity and weight-related health problems rises, today Mark Udall renewed his effort to help kids - early on - develop healthy habits that will serve them well into adulthood. His bill would help child-care centers develop programs to get our youngest kids more physically active, eat healthier and spend less time sitting in front of digital screens. The Healthy Kids from Day One Act is co-sponsored by Senators Tom Carper (D-DE), Chris Coons (D-DE), Al Franken (D-MN) and Tom Udall (D-NM).

"Childhood obesity doesn't just lead to health problems for American families; the rising costs of treating and living with obesity-related illnesses strains family budgets and our entire economy and, with one in four military recruits being rejected for being overweight, it even puts our national security at risk. While this is a growing crisis for our country, it's one we can slow down and even reverse if we work together," Udall said. "My bill recognizes that in order to reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity, we must reach children in as many settings as possible, and particularly in the places where they live, learn and play. My bill will help bring together best practices and child-care staff training tools from around the country to help child-care providers be more effective advocates in fighting childhood obesity, teaching kids about nutrition, physical activity and healthy habits that will serve them into adulthood. By teaching kids good habits from day one, we can lay the groundwork for a healthier America and a higher quality of life for later generations."

One in three kids is either overweight or obese - a remarkable increase from the 4 percent of children in the 1960s - leading to more health issues such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Udall previously introduced similar legislation with Franken in 2010. An avid mountain climber and a co-chair of the bipartisan Senate Outdoor Recreation Caucus, he has led numerous efforts to promote healthy and active lifestyles for children and adults. Udall believes that getting kids to enjoy the outdoors is one of the best ways we can promote a healthier population. Last summer, he spearheaded a national Kids to Parks initiative to engage American youth in being active outdoors and in our state's parks, and he continues to work to spur Colorado's booming sporting and outdoors industries. To view a one-page summary of the bill, click HERE.

"I would like to thank Nemours, Trust for America's Health, the YMCA of the USA, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Heart Association for working with me to develop this legislation. This bill builds upon their expertise with obesity prevention," Udall added.

The Healthy Kids from Day One Act also enjoys the support of over 30 national and state organizations whose mission it is to promote population health. Below is a selection of comments of support from some of Colorado's leading voices on health promotion and child well-being.

"Childhood obesity is rising in Colorado at an alarming rate, and we know that the earlier we start, the more likely we are to instill healthy habits in our kids and turn around this trend. Good nutrition and physical activity contribute to good health, social and emotional development and academic success, and we applaud Senator Udall for recognizing this critical opportunity for our youngest children and his leadership in bringing forward this innovative policy." - Chris Watney, President and CEO of Colorado Children's Campaign

"This important bill makes healthy eating and physical activity a priority for young children, which will prevent childhood obesity and contribute to healthy habits that will last a lifetime." - Maren Stewart, President and CEO of LiveWell Colorado

"We at the Colorado Health Foundation applaud both the spirit and intent of the 'Healthy Kids from Day One Act.' With its focus on the youngest of our citizens, this effort represents a solid investment in the nation's future in terms of healthier, happier children who perform to their full potential in the classroom." - Anne Warhover, President and CEO of the Colorado Health Foundation

Key Elements of the Healthy Kids from Day One Act:

1) Pilot Program: The legislation would create a 3-year pilot program in 5 states to support child-care collaboratives that focus on combating obesity among our youngest children. These collaboratives will work to do the following in child-care settings:

Promote physical activity.
Create healthier eating environments.
Limit the amount of time children spend in front of the TV or other digital screens.
Promote parental engagement.
2) Training: The collaboratives bring child-care providers together in structured learning sessions to share strategies and techniques to improve healthy eating and physical activity of children in child-care settings.

3) Finding Out What Works: Upon completion of the pilot, the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) will use consistent metrics to evaluate the program and report back to Congress. Best practices will be identified, disseminated and encouraged in other existing federal programs.

4) Federal Coordination: HHS will ensure this pilot coordinates activities with the National Prevention, Health Promotion and Public Health Council. This will minimize the duplication of resources and eliminate the need for a new government entity for this program.

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