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Bipartisan Policy Center Launches Physical Activity/Nutrition Initiative
Led by Former Cabinet Secretaries
Dan Glickman, Mike Leavitt, Donna E. Shalala and Ann M. Veneman
Washington, D.C. – To address the more than one third of adults and 17 percent of children in the United States who are obese, the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) today launched its newest project, the Nutrition and Physical Activity Initiative, co-chaired by former Secretaries of Agriculture Dan Glickman and Ann M. Veneman and former Secretaries of Health and Human Services Mike Leavitt and Donna E. Shalala. Over the course of the next year, the initiative will bring together key experts, policymakers and stakeholders to identify opportunities for bipartisan collaboration on food, health and fitness issues.
The year-long effort will culminate in the release of a set of policy recommendations for the administration, Congress and the private sector to consider. At the outset, the initiative will focus on four key issue areas: improving nutrition education; developing mechanisms to promote access to healthy food choices; the role of institutional players and opportunities for partnerships between the public and private sectors; and removing obstacles to increased physical activity.
“It is important to promote and highlight programs that are working well, as well as those that need improvement. In keeping with the mission of the Bipartisan Policy Center, we will propose consensus-based recommendations that are the result of rigorous review and reasoned negotiation,” said Secretary Glickman at today’s launch. “Issues like nutrition and wellness, physical fitness and access to healthy food options are ripe for bipartisan action, and I hope our recommendations will contribute significantly to the current debate.”
“We recognize that there is a lot of good work in this area being done already, from all levels of government and in our communities, school lunch rooms and the private sector,” said Secretary Veneman at today’s press conference. “Through this initiative, we hope to highlight those successes and contribute our combined experience in offering recommendations to improve the health of our nation.”
The co-chairs will host public forums in Washington and around the country over the next several months to highlight important elements of the national conversation around nutrition and physical activity and to discuss specific topics related to the initiative’s four priority issue areas. On April 20, 2011, the co-chairs will host their first forum at the University of Miami. In addition to producing a set of comprehensive, actionable recommendations in early 2012, the initiative will issue several white papers throughout the year and review potential opportunities to affect legislation, including the reauthorization of the Farm Bill and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
“This initiative will produce specific, achievable solutions to improve our nutrition education, and, as a result, improve the health of all Americans. I think we are all in agreement that the skyrocketing cost of health care in this country is too high, and we need to help people make better choices,” said Christine Morris, Associate Vice President for Communications at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, on behalf of Secretary Shalala, at today’s press conference. “Through this effort, we will promote the link between nutrition and health, and we will draw attention to programs in the private and public sectors, NGOs, and large institutions, like universities and hospitals.”
“I agreed to join this initiative because I believe that the link between healthy eating habits and nutrition and the need for physical activity is one that needs to be emphasized,” said Secretary Leavitt in a statement today. “There are many good private- and public-sector efforts happening, and many we hope could perhaps benefit and get a boost from the exposure and advancement this initiative might afford.”