Childhood Obesity In Low-Income And Racial And Ethnic Minority Communities Addressed By Legislation

H. R. 4765, THE “FIT FOR LIFE ACT” WOULD INCREASE ACCESS TO HEALTHY FOODS AND PROMOTE HEALTHY, ACTIVE LIFESTYLES BY STUDENTS ACROSS THE U.S.

Childhood obesity occurs among African American children at disproportionate rates:  African American children and adolescents are more likely to be overweight and obese than their Caucasian peers. Currently, over 35% of African American children ages 2 to 19 are overweight or obese, compared with less than 32% of the general population in the same age range.  Furthermore, although the percentage has decreased, the current obesity rate, as defined as being in the 95th percentile for BMI (Body Mass Index) among African American youths is still higher by almost 4% than the national average of 16.9%.  The consequences of this disparity are as glaring and as dangerous as you might expect.  Overweight and obese children are more likely to suffer from serious, lifelong illnesses than their healthy-weight peers. The higher prevalence of overweight and obesity among African American children places them at a greater risk of developing chronic diseases including Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and other cardiovascular disease risk factors, asthma, sleep apnea, and social discrimination.

To address these problems, Congresswoman Marcia Fudge (OH) has introduced H.R. 4765, the “Fit for Life Act of 2014.”  H.R. 4765 tackles the problem of disproportionate childhood obesity among low-income and racial and ethnic minority children head-on by addressing many of the sources of this glaring disparity.  It increases access to healthy food in many of the neighborhoods where fresh produce is rarely seen, and among many of the federal programs which serve primarily low income and disproportionately racial and ethnic minority children (such as school lunch programs); it improves prevention and treatment measures; and it promotes physical activity.  H. R. 4765 takes many of the crucial steps that are necessary if we are going to seriously address the issue of childhood obesity and its disproportionate incidence among low-income and racial and ethnic minority children.

THE NAACP STRONGLY SUPPORTS H.R. 4765 AND URGES ITS IMMEDIATE ENACTMENT IN ORDER TO BEGIN TO ADDRESS THE PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH CHILDHOOD OBESITY.

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