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Harkin Applauds First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” Initiative to Improve Physical Activity in American Schools

Harkin, a Long-Time Advocate for Wellness Efforts, Authored the Prevention and Public Health Title of the Affordable Care Act

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) today applauded a “Let’s Move!” announcement from First Lady Michelle Obama that will help ensure that more students can get 60 minutes of physical activity while at school. Companies and institutions including NIKE, Inc., the GENYOUth Foundation, ChildObesity180, Kaiser Permanente, and the General Mills Foundation will invest $70 million collectively to help improve physical activity choices for students in 50,000 schools over the next five years.

“A lifetime of healthy living starts in childhood. The First Lady’s new initiative will help ensure that our children are given the right tools to learn about and practice healthy habits—including exercise and physical activity,” Harkin said. “And importantly, our schools will have the resources to help their students live active lives—both inside and outside of the classroom.”

As HELP Committee Chairman, Harkin championed the prevention and wellness measures that are included in the Affordable Care Act.  Preventive initiatives in doctors’ offices and the community help rein in costs across the full health care spectrum. The Prevention and Public Health title of the health reform law created a Prevention and Public Health Fund that supports communities across America in their efforts to foster healthy and active children and families. The law also requires health insurance companies to cover recommended preventive screenings with no copays or deductibles.

He is also the author of several pieces of legislation aimed at increasing wellness in schools, including the FIT Kids Act and the Successful, Safe and Healthy Students Act that promote physical activity in schools, as well as the Physical Activities Guidelines for Americans Act, which directs the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to prepare and promote physical activity guidelines based on the latest scientific evidence.

Earlier this year, Harkin introduced the Help America Act, which includes critical public health and prevention initiatives to fight chronic disease, encourage healthier schools, communities and workplaces, and improve physical activity opportunities for individuals with disabilities. The bill would also add Physical Education (PE) to the existing set of “core subjects,” bolster nutrition and physical activity in community learning centers, and engage parents and teachers in physical activity and healthy eating opportunities.