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Volunteers Head for the Hill

April 17, 2011       Leave a Comment
By: Stacy Sawyer

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Hundreds of American Heart Association volunteers were at Capitol Hill this past Tuesday where they met with their members of Congress 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.

The NIH invests only 4 percent of its budget on heart research and a mere 1 percent on stroke research, yet 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.

We can also save more lives by bettering the health of our children. The poor health of our children is largely due to a decline in regular physical activity and a diet high in unhealthy foods. According to the American Heart Association, there is not one youth between the ages of 12 and 19 who meet the American Heart Association's criteria for a healthy diet.

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%.

Take action today to let your legislators know the time is now for action to be taken. It's a matter of our lives. You can write your member of Congress by visiting Join the Heart Association's You're The Cure Network to stay informed and up to date on legislative issues that affect you and your family.

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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