FDI: Bush Administration Urged to Establish Program to Fight Childhood Obesity

Apr 19, 2001, 01:00 ET from Food Distributors International

    FALLS CHURCH, Va., April 19 /PRNewswire/ -- Former U.S. Agriculture
 Secretary John R. Block today urged the Bush Administration to revitalize the
 President's Council on Physical Fitness (PCPF) to focus on the disturbing
 problem of childhood obesity in the United States.
     Block, now President of Food Distributors International (FDI), sent a
 letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson urging him to
 lead an effort to focus attention on the problem and to coordinate with other
 government entities, including the Office of Surgeon General and, perhaps, the
 U.S. Department of Agriculture.  When Block led that department during the
 Reagan Administration, he launched a "Food for Fitness" program that worked
 with the PCPF.
 
     The text of former U.S. Agriculture Secretary John R. Block's letter to
 Secretary Thompson follows:
 
     "All across America millions of children -- almost 5 million, as a matter
 of fact-are considered overweight, and are facing the probability of serious,
 even debilitating, health problems for the rest of their lives.
     "We know there are many reasons why children struggle with being
 overweight or obese from lack of physical activity to poor nutritional habits.
 We also know that the consequences are serious -- ranging from poor self
 esteem to diabetes and heart disease.
     "As you know from our previous conversations, I am extremely concerned
 about this difficult and worsening problem.  I believe it poses serious
 consequences for our future generations and for our society, in general, as we
 seek to find ways of controlling the cost of health care that is rapidly
 spiraling out of control.
     Much of the problem can be attributed to the fact that kids today are just
 not as active as they once were.  You can blame excessive television and video
 watching, overuse of computers, and lack of physical activity in school to
 start.  How many kids ride bikes to after-school activities and home again?
 Usually, it's mom in the minivan who ferries them back and forth.
     I don't have to detail the problem or its causes for you, I know.  But I
 do want to urge you to use your influence to breath new life into an entity
 established long ago to help encourage exercise and good health among
 Americans of all ages -- the President's Council on Physical Fitness (PCPF).
     As you will recall, during President Reagan's time in office, the PCPF was
 led by Coach George Allen and did an outstanding job of publicizing the
 importance of healthful lifestyles, including regular exercise and a healthy
 diet.  I would very much like to see a revival of this work, and would be
 delighted to help make this a reality.  During my tenure as Secretary of
 Agriculture, we developed a program called "Food and Fitness" that worked with
 the PCPF and generated increased support for, and attention to, the overall
 program objective.
     Since the PCPF is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Health and
 Human Services, as is the Office of Surgeon General, which also plays a major
 role in encouraging healthful nutrition, perhaps a concerted, focused plan
 could be developed with the specific objective of reducing childhood obesity.
     An important step to achieving this goal would be the appointment of a
 national spokesperson who would demonstrate by example the importance of good
 nutrition and exercise; someone who could capture the imagination of our young
 people.  Mia Hamm, the women's soccer star, who now plays for the Washington
 Freedom might be a good example to consider.  I have no idea if she would be
 interested or would have the time to devote to this initiative, but I do
 believe she is the type of person who could help make this program successful.
     State affiliate organizations should be encouraged to pitch in with local
 sports celebrities enlisted as spokespersons, and increased cooperation with
 schools through the Department of Education should be considered.  The
 National Association of School Physical Fitness Educators might be a possible
 ally.
     Mr. Secretary, I look forward to discussing this proposal with you
 personally, at your convenience, and am hopeful that we can work together to
 help improve the health of our citizens, particularly the young people of our
 nation on whom our future relies.
 
     Note to Editors: The text of this news release is available on the
 Internet through the Food Distributors International web site at
 http://www.fdi.org .
 
     Food Distributors International is a trade association comprised of food
 distribution companies that supply and service independent grocers and
 foodservice operations throughout the United States, Canada and 19 other
 countries.  The association and its foodservice partner, the International
 Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA), have 227 member companies that
 operate 1244 distribution centers with a combined annual sales volume of $170
 billion.  IFDA represents member firms that annually sell $48 billion in food
 and related products to restaurants, hospitals and other institutional
 foodservice operations.
 
 

SOURCE Food Distributors International
    FALLS CHURCH, Va., April 19 /PRNewswire/ -- Former U.S. Agriculture
 Secretary John R. Block today urged the Bush Administration to revitalize the
 President's Council on Physical Fitness (PCPF) to focus on the disturbing
 problem of childhood obesity in the United States.
     Block, now President of Food Distributors International (FDI), sent a
 letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson urging him to
 lead an effort to focus attention on the problem and to coordinate with other
 government entities, including the Office of Surgeon General and, perhaps, the
 U.S. Department of Agriculture.  When Block led that department during the
 Reagan Administration, he launched a "Food for Fitness" program that worked
 with the PCPF.
 
     The text of former U.S. Agriculture Secretary John R. Block's letter to
 Secretary Thompson follows:
 
     "All across America millions of children -- almost 5 million, as a matter
 of fact-are considered overweight, and are facing the probability of serious,
 even debilitating, health problems for the rest of their lives.
     "We know there are many reasons why children struggle with being
 overweight or obese from lack of physical activity to poor nutritional habits.
 We also know that the consequences are serious -- ranging from poor self
 esteem to diabetes and heart disease.
     "As you know from our previous conversations, I am extremely concerned
 about this difficult and worsening problem.  I believe it poses serious
 consequences for our future generations and for our society, in general, as we
 seek to find ways of controlling the cost of health care that is rapidly
 spiraling out of control.
     Much of the problem can be attributed to the fact that kids today are just
 not as active as they once were.  You can blame excessive television and video
 watching, overuse of computers, and lack of physical activity in school to
 start.  How many kids ride bikes to after-school activities and home again?
 Usually, it's mom in the minivan who ferries them back and forth.
     I don't have to detail the problem or its causes for you, I know.  But I
 do want to urge you to use your influence to breath new life into an entity
 established long ago to help encourage exercise and good health among
 Americans of all ages -- the President's Council on Physical Fitness (PCPF).
     As you will recall, during President Reagan's time in office, the PCPF was
 led by Coach George Allen and did an outstanding job of publicizing the
 importance of healthful lifestyles, including regular exercise and a healthy
 diet.  I would very much like to see a revival of this work, and would be
 delighted to help make this a reality.  During my tenure as Secretary of
 Agriculture, we developed a program called "Food and Fitness" that worked with
 the PCPF and generated increased support for, and attention to, the overall
 program objective.
     Since the PCPF is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Health and
 Human Services, as is the Office of Surgeon General, which also plays a major
 role in encouraging healthful nutrition, perhaps a concerted, focused plan
 could be developed with the specific objective of reducing childhood obesity.
     An important step to achieving this goal would be the appointment of a
 national spokesperson who would demonstrate by example the importance of good
 nutrition and exercise; someone who could capture the imagination of our young
 people.  Mia Hamm, the women's soccer star, who now plays for the Washington
 Freedom might be a good example to consider.  I have no idea if she would be
 interested or would have the time to devote to this initiative, but I do
 believe she is the type of person who could help make this program successful.
     State affiliate organizations should be encouraged to pitch in with local
 sports celebrities enlisted as spokespersons, and increased cooperation with
 schools through the Department of Education should be considered.  The
 National Association of School Physical Fitness Educators might be a possible
 ally.
     Mr. Secretary, I look forward to discussing this proposal with you
 personally, at your convenience, and am hopeful that we can work together to
 help improve the health of our citizens, particularly the young people of our
 nation on whom our future relies.
 
     Note to Editors: The text of this news release is available on the
 Internet through the Food Distributors International web site at
 http://www.fdi.org .
 
     Food Distributors International is a trade association comprised of food
 distribution companies that supply and service independent grocers and
 foodservice operations throughout the United States, Canada and 19 other
 countries.  The association and its foodservice partner, the International
 Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA), have 227 member companies that
 operate 1244 distribution centers with a combined annual sales volume of $170
 billion.  IFDA represents member firms that annually sell $48 billion in food
 and related products to restaurants, hospitals and other institutional
 foodservice operations.
 
 SOURCE  Food Distributors International