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Senate Committee Approves Bill to Combat Obesity

On October 29, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee approved, by voice vote, a bill (S. 1172) to combat the growing problem of obesity in the United States.

Sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), the Improved Nutrition and Physical Activity (IMPACT) Act contains a number of congressional findings, including:

  • an estimated 61 percent of adults and 13 percent of children and adolescents in the nation are overweight or obese;
  • obesity and being overweight are associated with an increased risk for heart disease (the leading cause of death), cancer (the second leading cause of death), diabetes (the sixth leading cause of death), and musculoskeletal disorders;
  • the estimated direct and indirect annual cost of obesity in the United States is $117 billion and appears to be rising dramatically;
  • on the 1999 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 7.5 percent of high school girls reported recent use of laxatives or vomiting to control their weight; and
  • eating disorders of all types are more common in women than men.

IMPACT would authorize $60 million in grants over five years to schools, public health departments, community groups, and others to plan and implement programs that promote healthy eating habits and physical activity. The measure also would authorize grants to eligible entities to train primary care physicians and other health professionals on how to identify, treat, and prevent obesity and eating disorders. Finally, the bill would direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to conduct a report on the causes and health implications of obesity and being overweight.

Rep. Mary Bono (R-CA) has introduced comparable legislation (H.R. 716) in the House.

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