- Urges government leaders to legislate taxpayer-funded programs and policies that will “enable more Americans to eat healthy and be active”
- Laments that low-income “blacks, Hispanics and Native people” suffer disproportionately from obesity
Founded in 2007, the Campaign to End Obesity (CEO) seeks to provide “the information and guidance” that “decision-makers” in political office and public-health agencies need in order to “make policy changes that will reverse one of the nation’s costliest and most prevalent diseases”—i.e., obesity. According to CEO, two-thirds of U.S. adults and nearly one in three children are overweight or obese. The Campaign laments that these people—among whom low-income “blacks, Hispanics and Native people” are disproportionately represented—are at higher-than-average risk for developing cancer, hypertension, heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes. All told, says CEO, obesity and its related ailments add $168 billion to Americans’ total healthcare costs each year.
To address the foregoing problems, CEO calls for political leaders to legislate “changes in federal policy that will enable more Americans to eat healthy and be active.” Invariably, this entails the enactment of government-run programs funded by taxpayer dollars. In recent years, for instance, CEO has supported the following congressional anti-obesity initiatives:
* The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act was passed by the House of Representatives in 2010, in an effort to: increase public funding for federal school lunches; enable local educational agencies to ensure that all foods served on school campuses “promote student health and reduce childhood obesity”; and reduce “the bureaucratic red tape that currently prevents too many families from getting the meals they are eligible to receive” under school-lunch programs and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as food stamps). CEO executive director Penny Lee said that as a result of this bill’s passage, “parents can rest a little bit easier, knowing that our children will soon receive the nutritious food they need to help reach their full potential.” “It is imperative,” she added, “that Congress continue to take steps like this one that can begin to reverse this [obesity] epidemic.”
* The HELP America Act was introduced by Democratic Senator Tom Harkin in January 2011 and called for: the development of publicly funded training programs to help medical professionals gain expertise in Body-Mass-Index (BMI) measurement procedures; the provision of “updated guidelines to all Americans about an appropriate level of physical activity”; the enactment of a tax credit reimbursing employers for the costs of implementing “wellness programs”; and an expansion of Medicaid and SCHIP coverage to include obesity-prevention services and and obesity counseling.
* _T_he FIT Kids Act was introduced in both the House of Representatives and the Senate in March 2011. It aimed to: “expand opportunities for physical activity in U.S. schools”; “require local educational agencies to publicize whether schools are providing age-appropriate physical education [in accordance with] national standards”; and cover the costs of “further professional development for health and physical-education teachers.”
* _T_he Safe and Complete Streets Act was introduced to Congress in May 2011 and called for “new federally-funded transportation investments” to create “safe routes for walking and biking.”
* _T_he Fit for LIFE Act was introduced by Representative Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) in August 2011 to address the problem of obesity in low-income and minority communities by “creating structures for nutrition counseling; expanding Medicare, Medicaid and SCHIP coverage for obesity prevention and treatment services; revitalizing community spaces that can be used for physical activity programs; and promoting active lifestyles by creating safe routes for walking and biking, among other provisions.”
* _T_he Healthy Kids Outdoors Act was introduced in both the House and Senate in November 2011. It called for federal, state, and local taxpayer funds to underwrite outdoor-recreation programs; public transportation facilities; the construction and maintenance of walking and biking trail systems; school-based programs based in “outdoor learning environments”; and education programs for parents and caregivers “about the health benefits of active time outdoors to fight obesity.”
In May 2012, CEO supported New York mayor Michael Bloomberg’s decision to restrict sales of sugary soft drinks to no more than 16 ounces per cup in city restaurants, movie theaters, stadiums, and arenas.