Klobuchar introduces bill to combat childhood obesityWashington, D.C. – Today U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, introduced legislation that will strengthen nutritional standards and promote healthy lifestyles for children in child care and after school programs.
Washington, D.C. – Today U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, introduced legislation that will strengthen nutritional standards and promote healthy lifestyles for children in child care and after school programs. The Healthy Living Starts Early Act of 2010 calls for changes to the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) to provide health education and guidance for child care providers and implements nutrition standards for meals served in the program. Currently, one in four children are either obese or overweight before entering kindergarten. Joining Klobuchar in introducing this legislation is Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA).
“Ensuring that kids have access to nutritious food is important not only for their own well-being, but for the well-being of our nation,” said Klobuchar. “By promoting healthy lifestyles early, this bill represents a new opportunity to prevent childhood obesity.”
The CACFP provides meals and snacks to children at family day care homes, child care centers, homeless shelters, after-school programs, and adult day care centers. Currently, the CACFP does not have nutrition-based standards for meals served in the program, and one recent study found that the foods most often missing from the meals were fruits and vegetables. Another study found that up to a third of children age 7 to 24 months were found to have eaten no fruits or vegetables for a whole day and the most commonly eaten vegetable was french fries. In 2006, 59.8 million meals were served through the CACFP.
The Healthy Living Starts Early Act of 2010 will improve children’s health by requiring the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop nutrition standards consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for all food served in the CACFP. The legislation will also encourage good eating habits by educating providers about healthy practices including menu planning, the proper reading of nutrition labels, identifying healthy foods and best practices on physical activity. The bill also calls for limits on sedentary activities like watching TV. Additionally, the bill will simplify the administration of the program to ensure greater access for families and reduced administrative cost.
Klobuchar has actively worked to improve the health of America’s children. She is a sponsor of the Child Nutrition Promotion and School Lunch Protection Act, which grants the Secretary of Agriculture the authority to oversee the sale of all foods and beverages on school grounds and requires national nutrition standards for these foods. Additionally, as Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee’s Subcommittee on Children’s Health, Klobuchar has held hearings to examine the issue of childhood obesity.
Childhood obesity has become a national health issue and, according to the Centers for Disease Control, one out of every three children in the U.S. between the ages of two and 19 is overweight or at risk of becoming overweight.
Later this month, the Senate Agriculture Committee will take up the Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill. The legislation will reauthorize the four major domestic food assistance programs, including the CACFP, that serve the nutritional needs of children and are administered by the USDA.