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Healthy Choices Act Introduced by Lawmakers

May 10, 2010

Kids Play Skiprope

The “Healthy Choices Act” was introduced last week by the U.S. Rep. Ron Kind and three other Congressional co-sponsors, journalist Karlene Lukovitz tells us via MediaPost. This bill hopes to address the nation’s obesity epidemic in a thorough and hopefully positive way. The chairman of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, Rick Wolford, described the bill with such words as simple, sensible, science-based, and attainable.

Some of the other organizations involved are the American Heart Association, the YMCA, and the Campaign to End Obesity. According to the article, the American Beverage Association salutes the legislation as an attempt to “tackle the complex problem of obesity in a holistic way,” which is a rather cryptic comment if you think about it. Lukovitz says,

Doctors would be provided with tools to diagnose and treat obesity, and funding would be provided to help researchers develop more effective prevention and treatment methods.

Lukovitz keeps an eye on marketing trends for MediaPost, and within the last month has also written about the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation and the recent Lauer Johnson Research study of the nutritional value of school lunches.

Of course, the bill will have to go through the usual process before becoming a law, and might change along the way. It aims to make sure that federal food programs are practicing what another part of the government is preaching, which means assuring that they follow good nutrition guidelines. It also recognizes the plight of people in low-income areas both rural and urban, who don’t have transportation to get to a store, and if they did, the only kind of store within a reasonable distance wouldn’t be selling any fresh vegetables. It mentions realigning transportation policies to encourage a healthier lifestyle — which is good, if it means more bicycle lanes — and bad, if it means cutting down on public mass transportation in cities, which is bad enough already.

The bill also mentions, rather vaguely, providing children and adults with opportunities for physical exercise, nutritional information, and assessment tools. In Overweight: What Kids Say, Dr. Pretlow talks about displacement activities, the things people do to alleviate stress:

These behaviors use up nervous energy, distract from disagreeable conflicts, and relieve tension. The McMillan Dictionary defines displacement activity as: ‘Something that you do in order to avoid dealing with an unpleasant situation.’

Unfortunately, eating is an all-too-popular displacement activity. The kids who have responded to polls on the Weigh2Rock website have revealed that coming home from school is an unusually stressful time. Dr. Pretlow suggests that communities could offer more for kids to do in the way of sports, hobbies, playing musical instruments, self-improvement classes, and so forth. In other words, kids may simply need something interesting and stimulating to do with their time — something to displace the displacement activities. That is perhaps one way in which the currently strong government interest in squelching the obesity epidemic could be put to use.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Newly Introduced Congressional Bill Tackles Obesity,” MediaPost, 05/06/10
Source: “Overweight: What Kids Say,” Amazon.com
Image by mikebaird, used under its Creative Commons license.

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