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SGMA Applauds First Lady's Effort to Curb Childhood Obesity

Date: 2/12/10

SGMA's Public Policy Agenda Complements Mrs. Obama's Let's Move Campaign

SILVER SPRING, MD – February 12, 2010 – When First Lady Michelle Obama announced her goal earlier this week of fighting the childhood obesity problem in the US, it confirmed the significance of SGMA’s public policy initiative which is focused on reversing the negative health-care trends of people being overweight and obese.  The obesity figures in the US are staggering as 27 percent of the U.S. population is obese and U.S. health care expenditures are now $2.4 trillion – according the America’s Health Rankings.

“The SGMA greatly appreciates the First Lady’s leadership in addressing this crisis that has such a negative impact on young people today,” said SGMA President Tom Cove.  “The effort by the First Lady to combat childhood obesity only confirms the importance of SGMA’s public policy work which is focused on making physical activity a priority – for physical education in schools, youth sports, and adult fitness and recreational activities.” 

SGMA is leading the effort on generating support for two policy initiatives that promote healthy lifestyles through sports, fitness, exercise and physical activity: The Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP) and the Personal Health Investment Today Act (PHIT).

PEP provides the only federal money to school districts and community based organizations for physical education and innovative physical activity.  PEP grants are used by local school districts and community based programs to purchase equipment and train instructors in new physical education methods.  Since 2001, PEP has successfully enhanced K-12 physical education across the country with more than $600 million in grants for training in state-of-the-art health and wellness-based physical education methods.  Physical education classes supported by PEP grants use heart-rate monitors, pedometers, and state-of-the-art fitness equipment to motivate students to exercise.

PHIT encourages physically active lifestyles by making sports, fitness, and recreational activities more affordable -- through the use of tax incentives.  The PHIT Bill, which has been introduced by U.S. Representative Ron Kind (R-WI), would change current federal tax law to allow for the deduction or use of pre-tax dollars to cover expenses related to sports, fitness and other physical activities. PHIT would allow Americans to invest up to $2,000 annually in existing pre-tax medical accounts to pay for physical activity expenses including fitness equipment, youth sports fees, health club dues, and other expenses that directly relate to exercise and physical activity.  PHIT would expand the eligible expenses for pre-tax Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA), Medical Savings Accounts (MSA), and/or medical reimbursement arrangements.  PHIT would not increase contribution limits to these accounts.

“One of the keys to successfully confronting the issue of obesity is to focus on prevention and one of the best ways to prevent obesity is with exercise.  Naturally, an ideal way to introduce people to exercise is through P.E. programs in our schools.  That’s the power of PEP,” noted SGMA Vice President of Government Relations Bill Sells.  “PHIT will give people a financial incentive to get active – to participate in that exercise class, join a local sports team, or sign up for a gym membership.”

“By encouraging more physical activity through financial incentives, we will improve health, reduce medical costs and lower absenteeism at school and in the workplace,” said Sells.  “PHIT has the potential to make a big difference in people’s lives, provide a boost to the economy and eventually lower health care spending.”

“I challenge leaders from all sectors of the sporting goods industry to support this effort next month by participating in SGMA’s 11th National Health Through Fitness Day on March 10,” said SGMA President Tom Cove.  “On that day, industry leaders will meet face-to-face with members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate to encourage Congressional support of PEP and PHIT.  Getting the chance to have small, private meetings with congressional leaders to discuss this issue is what separates this day of advocacy from any others in our industry.”

National Health Through Fitness Day’s website is www.getinvolved.sgma.com.

The Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA), the #1 source for sport and fitness research, is the leading global trade association of manufacturers, retailers, and marketers in the sports products industry.  SGMA helps lead the sports and fitness industries by promoting favorable public policies, fostering participation through research, thought leadership and product promotion.  More information about SGMA membership, SGMA public policy platform, SGMA's Sports Research Partnership, and SGMA's National Health Through Fitness Day can be found at www.SGMA.com.

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