WASHINGTON – Concerns about the growing number of overweight children and adults in Tennessee have led U.S. Congressmen Bart Gordon (D-TN) and Zach Wamp (R-TN) to introduce bipartisan legislation aimed at providing all Americans with regularly up-to-date information on physical fitness and effective exercise habits.
“A recent study found that more than 30% of Tennessee adults and children are overweight or obese,” said Congressman Gordon.
“To reverse this trend, we have to ensure that everyone has the right facts about what constitutes adequate physical activity so they can develop healthy lifestyles. Just like dietary guidelines, our bill will require physical fitness guidelines to be updated every five years.”
Congressman Wamp added, “Tennessee has the fourth-highest overweight population, according to the Trust for America’s Health annual obesity report. The more people we can encourage to have a regimen of physical activity and take better care of themselves and their families, the better off we will be as a state and a nation. Publishing physical activity guidelines may help persuade Americans to live healthier lifestyles and avoid a lifetime of chronic disease.”
In 2008, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued its first-ever physical activity guidelines, which provided science-based guidance to help Americans aged six and older improve their health through appropriate physical activity.
The Gordon-Wamp legislation, titled the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Act, would require HHS to update these guidelines for the public at least every five years and mandates new guidelines be based on the most current and up-to-date scientific and medical knowledge.
The bill will also help fight the growing obesity epidemic by recommending separate exercise guidelines for children, adults, seniors and people with disabilities.
“Regular physical activity has been shown to lower the risk of early death and many serious medical conditions like diabetes, heart disease and cancer,” explained Gordon. “Regularly updating our nation’s fitness guidelines will not only help Tennesseans and individuals across our country, but it will also help schools develop more effective physical education programs.”
The legislation has already been endorsed by a wide coalition, including the American College of Sports Medicine, YMCA, National Recreation and Park Association, National Association for Sport and Physical Education and the U.S. Professional Tennis Association.
Gordon has been a longtime supporter of initiatives aimed at reducing obesity, and he has helped to secure federal funding for MTSU’s Center for Physical Activity and Health in Youth. The Center will use the funds to work with Tennessee schools and local communities to encourage physical activity among youth and advocate healthy lifestyles.