The results of a recent national study on fitness underscore the importance of the work which the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA) is now doing on Capitol Hill supporting legislation which encourages regular physical activity for all Americans. According to the findings of a recent study conducted by the Institute of Medicine (and reported in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine), more than 40 percent of the U.S. population could be obese by 2030.
That means another 30 million Americans will become obese in the next 18 years, unless something is done to reverse that trend beginning right now, according to a statement from the SGMA. And, the study also suggests that roughly 11 percent of the population will be severely obese by 2030 and severely obese translates to being about 100 pounds overweight.
As for the bottom-line impact of this level of obesity, it would cost an additional $549.5 billion in medical expenditures according to the study by the Institute of Medicine.
According to published reports of the study, there are five strategies which must be implemented if the U.S. is to get back in shape. Those five strategies include:
1. Make it easier for people to work physical activity into their daily lives;
2. Create an environment where healthy food and beverage options are the routine, easy choice;
3. Improve messages about physical activity and nutrition;
4. Expand the role of health care providers, insurers and employers in obesity prevention;
5. Make schools a national focal point for obesity prevention.
“For more than ten years, SGMA has supported funding for the Carol M. White Physical Education (PEP) Program in the Department of Education to give budget-challenged communities the necessary resources they need to provide quality physical education for our young people,” said SGMA President Tom Cove. “The PEP grants are making a difference in the communities which receive them, but we have only impacted a small percentage of all schools in the U.S. Teaching our children what they need to be active later in life is a critical component to reversing the trends reported in the Institute of Medicine study.”
“To date, nearly $800 million in PEP grants have been distributed across the country by the U.S. Department of Education since Fiscal Year 2001,” said SGMA Vice President of Government Relations Bill Sells. “The great thing about PEP is that it introduces children to the concept of exercise and they get to enjoy the immediate benefits of the exercise experience. And, it will help build healthy habits which can stay with the students for the rest of their lives. Funding for PEP, whose grants drive growth in physical education, must continue.”
The report recommends “requiring primary and secondary schools to have at least 60 minutes of PE and activity a day.” According to news reports, the findings of this national study recommend that schools be the focus of anti-obesity efforts since prevention is easier than implementing a cure.
“That message is in line with SGMA’s public policy efforts,” observed Sells.
While the PEP grants impact children, the SGMA is also a strong supporter of new legislation that could positively impact the rest of the U.S. population. That new legislation is known as PHIT (Personal Health Investment Today), which will help increase activity through tax incentives. The PHIT Act would change current federal tax law to allow for the deduction or use of pre-tax dollars to cover expenses related to sports, fitness and other physical activities. Americans could invest up to $2,000 annually to reimburse physical activity costs using PHIT-designated contributions to existing pre-tax Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA), Medical Savings Accounts (MSA), and other medical reimbursement arrangements. PHIT would only expand the eligible expenses.
Last July, U.S. Representative Kevin Brady (R-TX) introduced the PHIT Bill to the U.S House of Representatives. It is HR 2649. The PHIT Bill has attracted strong bipartisan support. The list of co-sponsors includes Congressmen Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Ron Kind (D-WI), Bill Shuster (R-PA), Mike McIntrye (D-NC), William Lacy Clay (D-MO), Ron Paul (R-TX), C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersburger (D-MD), Jim Gerlach (R-PA), and Joe Barton (R-TX).
“Regular physical activity is the best preventive medicine we can prescribe,” said Brady, an eight-term congressman who is a member of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee. “This bill will give people another incentive to get active to participate in that exercise class, join a sports team, or sign up for a fitness program.”
“More people are dying because of obesity than all the wars of the world combined,” said golfing legend Gary Player, who attended National Health Through Fitness Day, SGMA’s big lobby day on Capitol Hill, in 2011 and 2012. “Sport and exercise can change the world.”
“I am particularly interested in the obesity issue and its effect on young people,” said former Wimbledon and U.S. Open tennis champ Stan Smith, who has attended National Health Through Fitness Day in the past, including this year. “If we can break that chain, then we can make some progress on this health issue. Promoting fitness will do just that.”
“Anybody in this country can play a role in getting the PEP (Carol M. White Physical Education Program) and the PHIT (Personal Health Investment Today) bills passed through Congress,” commented Sells.
“SGMA has produced electronic letters for the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, customized to your local Congressman and your state’s two U.S. Senators, to which you can attach your name and send directly from SGMA’s website.” Click here to contact your local Member of Congress and your state’s two U.S. Senators.