National Association of Chronic Disease Directors Supports Legislation to Combat Obesity

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The National Association of Chronic Disease Directors (NACDD) has endorsed the Healthy Activity for Lifelong Energy (HALE) Act recently introduced by Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Georgia), aimed at combating America's obesity epidemic, particularly among young men and women considering military service.

The National Association of Chronic Disease Directors (NACDD) has endorsed the Healthy Activity for Lifelong Energy (HALE) Act recently introduced by Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Georgia), aimed at combating America's obesity epidemic, in particular among young men and women considering military service. Approximately 80 percent of recruits who exceed the military weight-for-height standards leave the military before they complete their first term of enlistment. This increases the cost of recruitment and training, decreases the number of youth eligible for military service, and, over time, could threaten the long-term welfare and readiness of United States military forces and associated first-responders such as police and fire departments.

"If our society is not physically fit, we will not be able to defend ourselves and our country's common interests," Bishop said. "However, promoting healthier lifestyles and improving the overall public health must begin at the local level. This bill makes funding available where it is needed most by providing states and localities with the tools and resources they need to address obesity and tailor solutions to individual communities."

NACDD, whose members work for state health departments to prevent and control chronic disease, endorsed the legislation. NACDD members are comprised of state chronic disease directors in every state and U.S. territory.

David Hoffman, NACDD Legislative and Policy chair, said, "This is a clear sign of the growing understanding that policymakers in Washington have of the value of preventing and controlling chronic disease and the risk factors for chronic disease. Our health, our economy, and our future are at stake."

John Robitscher, NACDD executive director, said, "Thus far the focus on obesity and overweight has been on treatment via our healthcare system. The most cost- effective approach is to prevent the onset of overweight and obesity and its associated diseases and conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Promoting healthy lifestyle choices around increased physical activity and healthy nutrition are the more cost-effective approaches to reducing this epidemic. There are clear opportunities in the HALE Act for successful interventions as described in the bill. Congressman Bishop should be commended for his visionary approach to combating obesity at the community level."

Bishop's bill will establish a comprehensive grant program through which state health departments may apply for funding to implement specific programs aimed at creating better opportunities for fitness, promoting healthier eating, and preventing obesity and other chronic diseases. Specifically, under the HALE Act, the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services could provide competitive grants of at least $300,000 per year to state health departments. The state health departments may use the funds to establish and implement between four and eight "community action teams" within the state, who would in turn bring together key decision-makers to assess areas of improvement specific to their community.

Provisions in the bill also provide funding to evaluate the programs effectiveness, conduct training for individual teams, and allow teams to rotate among different parts of the community.

"We must attack our nation's obesity epidemic at the grassroots. We need individuals with the knowledge and resources who can be face to face with people in the community, and encourage them to make meaningful changes in their everyday lives," Bishop said.

About NACDD:
The National Association of Chronic Disease Directors is a national public health association, founded in 1988, to link the chronic disease program directors of each state and U.S. territory to provide a national forum for chronic disease prevention and control efforts. NACDD provides state-based leadership and expertise for chronic disease prevention and control at the state and national level. Further information about NACDD is available at http://www.chronicdisease.org.

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Tammy Reasoner
NACDD
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