Rainbow Babies, Cleveland Clinic Support Rep. Fudge Fit For L.I.F.E. Bill

Congresswoman Fudge introduces a landmark comprehensive bill to address childhood obesity in underserved communities

WASHINGTON, DC—Continuing her fight to eradicate childhood obesity in America, Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH) introduced the Fit for Local Investments in the Future of Every Child (L.I.F.E.) Act of 2010 today. In conjunction with Congressman Anh “Joseph” Cao (R-LA), Congresswoman Fudge structured a bill that addresses the unique barriers to healthy lifestyles for children in inner city, rural, and Native American communities, which have disproportionately high rates of childhood obesity.

“America is at a crossroads. We can turn this health epidemic into an opportunity to educate and motivate our families toward better health or we can disregard this movement as a fad. I choose to act,” said Congresswoman Fudge.

“The facts about childhood obesity demand action. Right now, 10 million children are obese. Certain communities are hit harder than others. For example, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reports that almost 43 percent of Mexican-American children and almost 37 percent of African-American children are obese or over weight, compared with about 32 percent of white children. But this trend can be reversed.”

“We can encourage corner stores to sell fresh produce in communities where there are no grocery stores, which we call food deserts. We can reauthorize the National Youth Sports Programs, which attack hunger, inactivity, and poor nutritional knowledge in a fun environment. We can expand Native American youth Zuni program which combats stereotypes that undermine healthy living. Fit for L.I.F.E. recognizes these opportunities. It proposes change, as well as innovative solutions.”

The comprehensive nature of the bill has garnered supporters in Cleveland, Ohio’s robust health community, including Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital and the Cleveland Clinic.

“The Fit for LIFE Act sets forth strong policies to reduce barriers that interfere with children having nutritious foods, safe places to play, and obesity prevention and treatment programs. These policies are important for all children, but are especially notable by targeting disparities in obesity and its complications that disproportionately affect children and families in underserved communities. The comprehensive policies would make it easier for families and children to make healthy lifestyle choices that counteract obesity. I applaud Congresswoman Fudge’s leadership in making childhood obesity a priority in order to ensure a healthy future for our children,” said Dr. Leona Cuttler, division chief of Pediatric Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism and director of the Center for Child Health & Policy at Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital.

“Nearly one third of our nation struggles with obesity which leads to increased risks for heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and orthopedic problems,” said Delos “Toby” Cosgrove, M.D., President and CEO, Cleveland Clinic. “This serious public health issue is a major contributor to the rising cost of healthcare. Increased access to healthy food choices and physical activity –especially for children– demands the attention of all of us, including parents, teachers, and legislators to reverse this devastating trend.”

Fit for L.I.F.E. has been endorsed by over 50 organizations. Many have offered public praise for Fit for L.I.F.E.:

“The childhood obesity epidemic is hitting all our children hard, but it’s affecting poor children and children of color the most,” said Angela Glover Blackwell, CEO of PolicyLink and the advisory board chair of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center to Prevent Childhood Obesity. “This generation of children is in danger of living shorter lives than their parents. By encouraging healthier eating and more active lifestyles, the Fit for LIFE effort will help us solve this problem at its roots – and give our children the long, healthy lives they deserve.”

“Children from low-income families are more likely to walk to school, but can face personal safety challenges along the way. The Safe Routes to School National Partnership applauds the introduction of the FIT for L.I.F.E. Act as it will help underserved communities coordinate community policing with Safe Routes to School efforts to make sure children are safe and physically active on the trip to and from school.” — Deb Hubsmith, Director, Safe Routes to School National Partnership

“We are grateful to Reps. Fudge and Cao for taking the lead in developing legislative solutions to address the problem of childhood obesity. Childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the U.S., threatening the quality of life and health of our children,” said Lawrence A. McAndrews, president and CEO of National Association of Children’s Hospitals. “Children’s hospitals welcome the possibility of additional resources for underserved communities in order to cultivate a culture of healthy eating habits and physical activity.”

“Nemours is pleased to support the F.I.T. for LIFE Act. This bill establishes important policies for our nation’s youngest children, including the 12 million who spend time in a child care setting. Providing opportunities for children to establish healthy habits early in life will set the stage for healthy child development.”–Debbie Chang, Vice President of Policy and Prevention at Nemours

“The Fit for LIFE Act will give the resources communities need to begin to address childhood obesity in a comprehensive way. With American Indians and Alaska Natives suffering the greatest rates of childhood obesity, this legislation will help provide access to the tools we need to combat childhood obesity within a generation. We applaud Representative Marcia Fudge and Representative Joseph Cao for their leadership on this issue in Congress. Their leadership is invaluable to address one of the most pressing public health issues of our day.”–Chairman Reno Franklin, National Indian Health Board