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Congresswoman Maxine Waters

Representing the 43rd District of California

Recognizing National Physical Education and Sport Week

August 4, 2009
Floor Statement
Rep. Maxine Waters [D-CA]: Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H. Res. 503--Recognizing National Physical Education and Sport Week.
This measure will signal to school districts across the country that they must begin to place health and wellness among their top priorities when planning curriculums for the upcoming school year. The rates of childhood obesity, heart disease, and diabetes in this country are unacceptable, and it is incumbent upon local school systems to provide programs and education that will teach students fundamental healthy lifestyle habits. 
Therefore, I firmly support this resolution and I commend my colleague Rep. Jason Altmire for bringing this measure before the floor. 

Physical education that takes place within schools and incorporates nutritional guidelines, physical activity, and a holistic approach to fitness will not only reverse the alarming increase in childhood obesity, but it will also result in a general decline in obesity and heart disease among the general U.S. population. As studies have shown, obese children have a 70 to 80 percent chance of becoming overweight adults, further increasing their risk for chronic disease. 

Our nation's minority communities are at particular risk, as poverty, lack of education, and diets high in fat and calories are all contributing factors increasing the likelihood of childhood obesity. During my visits to schools and conversations with children and their parents, I always emphasize the importance of not only academic success, but also a healthy lifestyle including physical fitness.

Mr. Speaker, it is imperative that we begin to rethink our old paradigms about health. In addition to treating the effects of unhealthy lifestyle habits--heart disease, diabetes, and chronic illness--we must enhance our efforts to promote prevention of disease and encourage healthy living.

Redirecting our attention toward youth health today will help children grow up to be healthy and productive adults. This will also reduce future healthcare costs. Therefore, I am pleased to add my voice of support for H. Res. 503. Moreover, I will be working with my colleagues to make sure we continue to take the necessary steps to educate our nation's children and adults about the importance of healthy lifestyle habits.