Children Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-6525

Title:

AN ACT ESTABLISHING A CHILDHOOD OBESITY TASK FORCE.

Vote Date:

3/12/2013

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

3/5/2013

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Children Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

This bill is in response to the growing concern regarding the increase in obesity among children and the negative impact on children's health. The bill would establish a task force to study the problem of childhood obesity.

For Substitute Bill 6525 (as contained in LCO No. 4554): In Section 1 (b) adds the following to what the task force shall do: “examine the nutrition standards for all food procured by the state;” “explore the implementation of a tax on large-size sugary drinks the revenue from which may be earmarked for childhood obesity prevention;” and “recommend the implementation of a pilot program through one local or regional board of education to schedule recess before lunch in grades kindergarten to twelve, inclusive;”. In Section 2. (a), adds a reference to a lunch period of not less than twenty minutes and time devoted to physical exercise of not less than twenty minutes for students K-5; Section 2. (b) adds a reference to no school employee shall prevent a student enrolled in grades K-5 from participating in entire time devoted to physical exercise as a punishment; New Sec. 3. States no school employees shall require a student in K-12, to engage in physical activity as a form of discipline during regular school day.

Amendment A: In Line 7 adds the Commissioner of the Department of Public Health or Commissioner's designee; and, includes a licensed dietician or nutritionist with a background in food service appointed by the Department of Public Health to the task force membership.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Jewel Mullen, MD, Commissioner, CT Department of Public Health: The DPH requests being included in the task force membership, as they can offer data and provide policy recommendations. A recent DPH study found that one third of CT children in K-3 grades are overweight or obese and one out of every seven are obese. The study was conducted with a sample of over 8,000 students. “The results of this study illustrate the alarming rate of childhood obesity, especially among high risk groups such as low-income, black and Hispanic children.” Obesity is a major risk factor for chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke which can lead to premature disability, early death, loss of productivity and decreased quality of life. Over past 30 years, childhood obesity has tripled in U.S. According to CDC, in 2010, approximately 17% of children and adolescents aged 2-19 were already obese. (Note: Amendment A added Commissioner of DPH or designee to task force)

Elaine Zimmerman, Exec. Director, CT Commission on Children: Supports HB 6525 establishing a childhood obesity task force.

Mary Kate Lowndes, Director of Special Initiatives & Development, CT Commission on Children: Speaking on behalf of COC and CT Coalition Against Childhood Obesity, supporting this bill. About one in three American kids and teens is overweight or obese, nearly triple the rate in 1963. Overweight kids have a 70-80% chance of staying overweight their entire lives. 60% of overweight children already exhibit at least one risk factor for heart disease – the #1 cause of death. Type 2 diabetes, represents up to 45% of new pediatric cases, compared to only 4% ten years ago. “Obesity kills more Americans each year than AIDS, cancer and injuries combined. Current generation of children may be first in our history to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. Offers a number of suggestions for task force roles and membership.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

John Bailey, State Director of Government Relations, American Heart Association (AHA): Obesity is a very serious health issue for our children and is a public health crisis facing CT. “If more is not done the cost to the state's taxpayers will be in the billions of dollars in health care costs, millions of hours of lost productivity and premature death due to health related diseases associated with obesity.” Recently, the SDE released a report that showed that more than a quarter of our high school students are either obese or overweight with males, Hispanics and African Americans recorded at 30%. Obesity is causing a broad range of health problems, such as Type 2 diabetes, known as “adult onset” diabetes. Today, as many as 45% of newly diagnosed diabetes cases in children are Type 2. Obesity has recently overtaken smoking as leading cause of premature heart attack. The AHA has produced a report entitled “Understanding Childhood Obesity” that outlines this health epidemic.

Karen Spargo, President, CT Association of Directors of Health (CADH) and Director of Health, Naugatuck Valley Health District: Applauds bill's multi-sector approach to address this important topic. The bill language should be amended to include state and local governmental public health representation to task force. (Note: Amendment adds the Commissioner of DPH or Commissioner's designee.)

CT Academy of Family Physicians: Childhood obesity is quickly becoming a health care epidemic and there is no better time for CT to take on the task of determining the best way to help children suffering from obesity and preventing other children from becoming obese. Obese children are more likely to suffer from numerous health problems such as diabetes, asthma, hypertension and liver disease, to name a few. Psychological effects of obesity are often just as troublesome – teasing, being treated as outcasts by peers, isolation and low self-esteem.

Colleen O'Connor, Advocacy Chair, CT Public Health Association (CPHA): Public health practitioners can play an integral role on the proposed task force. This bill is both timely and imperative, given rising incidence of this disease and its related health and economic costs to the state. Overweight and obese children face greater risk of developing chronic diseases previously considered adult illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, sleep apnea and certain kinds of cancers. The Institute of Medicine recommended that federal, state and local governments: “establish a high-level task force on childhood obesity prevention . .” Requests the task force include representation from the Public Health community. (Note: Amendment adds Commissioner of DPH or designee).

Maggie Adair, Exec. Director, CT Early Childhood Alliance: “Childhood obesity is a national and state issue that sparks a call for action.” A 2012 DPH report issued startling findings: nearly one in six CT children in kindergarten and third grade is overweight, one in seven children in kindergarten and one in six children in third grade is obese.” The DPH study found that obesity rates are significantly higher in low-income communities.

Dena Torino, Student, University of Connecticut's School of Social Work: Also, works at Taft School. Given today's obesity epidemic, hopes that CT will lead the way in making nutrition of its children a priority by creating this task force. If obesity rates continue on their current trajectories, the obesity rate in CT could reach an astounding 46.5%, increasing our obesity-related health care costs by 15.7%.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

None Expressed

Reported by: Elizabeth S. Giannaros, Clerk

Date: March 21, 2013