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Fighting Heart Disease in D.C.

March 26, 2011       Leave a Comment
By: Stacy Sawyer

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Hundreds of American Heart Association volunteers will meet with their members of Congress in Washington, D.C. on April 12 to discuss the need to increase funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the importance of the Fitness Integrated with Teaching (FIT) Kids Act.

Heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases remain America's leading causes of death. They affect nearly 81 million Americans and cost this nation more than any other disease. Despite the enormous burden these diseases place on our nation, NIH heart and stroke research remains disproportionately underfunded, especially in light of the many promising scientific opportunities that could advance the fight against these diseases.

"The NIH invests only 4 percent of its budget on heart research and a mere 1 percent on stroke research," stated American Heart Association Volunteer, Ruby Foster. "We want our legislators to know that it just makes sense to increase this amount in order to save more lives."

We can also save more lives by bettering the health of our children. The childhood obesity epidemic is largely due to a decline in regular physical activity and a diet high in unhealthy foods.

"I lost two of my grandparents to heart disease. Now I'm doing everything I can to prevent heart disease not only in myself but also my kids," stated Roneeka Brown. "I follow the American Heart Association's guidelines when it comes to my health - healthy snacks, limited screen time, and more activity."

A lack of regular physical activity not only hurts a child?s health, it can also affect his/her academic development, as research also shows that healthy children learn more effectively and are higher academic achievers.

The FIT Kids Act would work to ensure kids are active during the school day and are given opportunities that promote overall health and wellness. The legislation would engage parents and the public by requiring all school districts and states to report on students' physical activity, including the amount of time spent in required physical education in relation to the recommended national standard. The Act would further ensure appropriate professional development for health and physical education teachers, fund research to examine the link between children?s health and their academic achievement, and recommend effective ways to combat childhood obesity and improve healthy living and physical activity.

Increasing physical activity is a critical component of any initiative to combat childhood obesity and promote the health of students. Unfortunately, many schools are being forced to cut back on PE programs because of lack of resources and competing academic demands and testing. Between 1991 and 2003, enrollment of high school students in daily PE classes fell from 41.6% to 28.4%.

"We're hopeful that Congress will hear our concerns and take action to pass these life saving bills," stated Brown.

Stacy Sawyer
Communications Director -- American Heart Association
989-225-7513 (cell) --- 517-349-3240 (fax)

I invite your questions and feedback

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Stacy Sawyer

Stacy Sawyer is the Director of Communications for the American Heart Association. She can be reached at (989) 225-7513.

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