Thursday, July 8, 2010

Ohio’s fight against childhood obesity

A year ago, top Ohio business leaders took notice of the problem of childhood obesity and joined forces with the American Heart Association to curb the trend. On November 17, two bills (one in each chamber) were introduced with bipartisan support. The Healthy Choices for Healthy Children campaign had begun in earnest.

After introduction, You’re the Cure (YTC) advocates connected with advocates from the Ohio Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (OAHPERD) as the key proponents for quality physical education. Together, advocates supported the bills with media advocacy, letters to the editor and even a press event, resulting in great coverage! Legislators heard loud and clear that the You’re the Cure network cared about this issue, including passionate testimony from Great Rivers Affiliate Board Chairperson Joe San Filippo and physical education teacher and YTC advocate Melissa McCarthy.

Opposition was fierce in the final days before the bill‘s passage. While there is always compromise with legislation, advocate support of the bill ensured a much stronger bill, and on June 18, Governor Strickland signed the bill into law. The bill sets standards for beverages and snack items sold outside of the school lunch program; addresses physical education and physical activity by requiring physical education teachers are certified in the area; requires the state to adopt performance indicators to further improve quality and to increase daily physical activity for students; and also requires aggregate Body Mass Index (BMI) reporting to monitor the trend of childhood obesity and evaluate the effectiveness of the bill.

Since its introduction, it has been an amazing journey. Dedicated Ohio You’re the Cure advocates made sure the bill maintained key elements in the fight against childhood obesity.

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