Senator Robert "Bob" Deuell, M.D.
The Texas State Senate
District 2

For Immediate Release
February 14, 2003

***CAPITOL UPDATE***

Senators Move to Help Adolescent Obesity

(Austin) - On Thursday, February 13, I joined several of my Senate colleagues in co-authoring Senate Bill 474, relating to nutrition and health programs for public school children. The bill, authored by Senator Eddie Lucio (D - Brownsville), will create the Schoolchildren's Health and Advisory Council for the purpose of promoting better nutritional standards for our children.

As I stated in the press conference following the filing of the bill, this is a prevention program. Whatever money we do have to spend on this program, I think we are going to get back exponentially in the future because we are looking at people who will be alive in Texas in 60 to 70 years.

I can think of no more important issue to address than the health of our children. According to the Office of the Surgeon General, there are some dangerous trends that must be addressed. The following statistics are taken from the Surgeon General's website, and can be viewed at (www.surgeongeneral.gov).

THE PROBLEM OF OVERWEIGHT IN CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS
In 1999, 13% of children aged 6 to 11 years and 14% of adolescents aged 12 to 19 years in the United States were overweight. This prevalence has nearly tripled for adolescents in the past 2 decades.
Risk factors for heart disease, such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure, occur with increased frequency in overweight children and adolescents compared to children with a healthy weight.
Type 2 diabetes, previously considered an adult disease, has increased dramatically in children and adolescents. Overweight and obesity are closely linked to type 2 diabetes. Overweight adolescents have a 70% chance of becoming overweight or obese adults. This increases to 80% if one or more parent is overweight or obese.
Overweight or obese adults are at risk for a number of health problems including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and some forms of cancer
THE PROBLEM OF OVERWEIGHT IN CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS

Overweight in children and adolescents is generally caused by lack of physical activity, unhealthy eating patterns, or a combination of the two, with genetics and lifestyle both playing important roles in determining a child's weight. Our society has become very sedentary. Television, computer and video games contribute to children's inactive lifestyles. 43% of adolescents watch more than 2 hours of television each day.

The bill will require the council to develop a plan designed to improve the nutritional health of schoolchildren. The plan must include recommendations for activities and programs designed to reduce morbidity, mortality, and economic burden of childhood obesity; the incidence of diabetes and the incidence of cardiovascular disease.

They will also review current standards governing the nutritional content of meals served under the national school breakfast and school lunch programs and recommend appropriate changes in meal content standards and other related standards and practices. The bill calls on the council to develop program and curriculum changes designed to improve nutrition education in public schools in coordination with the national school breakfast and school lunch programs and other child health education and promotion programs offered by state and local entities.

In addition, the bill would require the council to develop programs designed to expand the use of Texas agricultural products in school breakfast and school lunch program meals and to improve the quality, nutritional content, and cost-efficiency of the meals.

To contact Sen. Deuell about the legislative process, contact the Capitol Office at (512) 463-0102 or mail to Sen. Bob Deuell, Texas Senate, P.O. Box 12068, Austin, TX 78711. The website for the Texas Senate is www.Senate.state.tx.us. The e-mail address for Sen. Deuell is: bob.deuell@senate.state.tx.us.

Top