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Promoting Sports & Fitness
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Fight Obesity and Support Cost Effective Solutions on National Health Through Fitness Day

Date: 1/23/13

SILVER SPRING - MD – January 23, 2013 - As President Obama noted in his inaugural address on Monday, “We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit. But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future."  On National Health Through Fitness Day (March 13, 2013), the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA), its sponsors, and many volunteers will come together to advocate for major legislation to “Get America Moving” and promote health via physical activity to reduce national healthcare expenditures, an issue which remains at the forefront of the fiscal crisis as we enter 2013.  National Health Through Fitness Day will focus on the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act and the Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP), support for both of which is imperative for improving the health of our nation and reducing future medical spending. To learn more on this day visit www.sfia.org/nhtf.

The PHIT Act, which received the most support ever in the last Congress, will give Americans financial incentives to become physically active by allowing pre-tax medical dollars to be used for activity-related expenses.  This innovative approach will target prevention as a strategy, using pre-tax medical accounts to improve health rather than just treat disease. By implementing policies that promote health and prevent illness, the federal government could save an estimated $542 billion over the next 10 years in Medicare and Medicaid spending alone. In 2011 Medicare accounted for 21% ($554.3 billion) of total healthcare expenditures and Medicaid accounted for 15% ($407 billion) of total healthcare expenditures.1   Combined these two government programs accounted for almost $1 trillion in government medical spending. Preventive measures focused on control and prevention of weight-related type 2 diabetes could save an additional $53 billion.2 PHIT embodies this strategy by promoting physical fitness through financial incentives in order to help get America moving and lower health-care spending.   
 
PEP will provide federal funding of physical education in schools to offer students quality physical education.  According to the CDC, in 2009-2010 there were 78 million obese adults and 12.5 million obese children and adolescents with medical-related costs totaling up to $147 billion a year.  With much of the spending targeting preventable chronic disease, it is crucial to address the sedentary crisis to improve the economic vitality of this country. 3 With 12.5 million obese children and adolescents, it is obvious that something must be done to keep our kids physically fit.  As of 2012, only six states required physical education in every grade4.  Physical education in schools is essential in order to keep America’s youth healthy, which as First Lady Michelle Obama stated, “is our obligation…not just as parents who love our kids, but citizens who love this country.”5 PEP faces threats from 2013 Congressional budgets and the Department of Education Consolidation Plan.  These plans take the wrong approach; continued funding of PEP is critical in order to fulfill our obligation to youth fitness.      
 
  1. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. National Health Expenditure Factsheet. 2011.
  2. United Health Group. Modernizing Medicare and Medicaid Could Improve Patient Health – and Save the Federal Government $542 Billion Over the Next Decade. 2013. 
  3. USA Today. Obesity Could Affect 42% of Americans by 2030. 2012.
  4. NASPE & AHA “2012 Shape of the Nations Report: PE Status”  AAHPERD
  5. Voice of America. New Term Lets First Lady Press Obesity Fight. 2013.
 

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