From: The Honorable Marcia L. Fudge
Sent By: leah.hill@mail.house.gov
Date: 7/16/2014

Supporting Organizations: The Campaign to End Obesity Action Fund, NAACP, YMCA, American Council on Exercise, National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity, National Recreation and Park Association, National Council of Youth Sports, Action for Healthy Kids, US Soccer Foundation, DC Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation

Dear Colleague:

I invite you to cosponsor the Fit for Life Act of 2014, a comprehensive solution to address a national epidemic that has plagued this nation for far too long.  Specifically, the Fit for Life Act addresses the unique barriers to eradicating childhood obesity in low-income, rural, minority, and Native American communities and provides targeted resources to these communities, which have disproportionate rates of childhood obesity.

Nearly a third of all children in the United States are either overweight or obese, over triple the rate from 50 years ago.  Our country spends nearly$200 billion a year to treat obesity-related conditions.  Obesity is linked to over 60 different chronic illnesses including high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers.  Current studies count the average additional medical cost for overweight and obese children around $19,000 over the course of their lives.  Type II diabetes and high blood pressure, medical complications of obesity, are among the most prevalent diseases plaguing America’s children.

Communities of color and other underserved populations are being hit the hardest by this childhood obesity.  African American, Hispanic, and Native American youth are disproportionately overweight and obese when compared to their Caucasian and Asian counterparts.  While the childhood obesity rate for the youngest children, ages 2-5, may have slightly decreased, the overall childhood obesity rate for African Americans and Hispanics of this same age range is still stubbornly high.  An African American child age 2-5 is more than three times as likely and Hispanic children of the same age group are nearly five times as likely to be obese than a Caucasian child.  These disparities cannot persist.

Although unhealthy diet and a lack of physical activity are the primary causes of childhood obesity, environmental factors also contribute to the growing rates of this condition.  For some children, where they grow up determines how well and how long they will live.  Underserved communities are plagued by food deserts and food swamps, and neighborhoods with limited access to fresh vegetables and fruits, but full of fast food and corner stores.  Further, abandoned properties and foreclosed homes litter land that could be used to encourage physical activity.  Children in many inner-city communities cannot walk to school or play in neighborhood playgrounds because of safety concerns.

Fit for Life addresses the root causes of the childhood obesity epidemic by improving nutritional quality of and access to food, ensuring a healthy start for children, advancing preventative measures, expanding treatment of obesity in children, increasing access to physical fitness for low-income children and communities, and encouraging physical activity in underserved communities. Obesity is one of the greatest public health threats our country faces, and we must act now.  I encourage you to stand with me and cosponsor the Fit for Life Act so our children can live longer and healthier lives. 

Please contact Leah Hill in my office at leah.hill@mail.house.gov if you would like to become a co-sponsor of this bill or have any questions,

Sincerely,

Marcia L. Fudge

Member of Congress