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Sens. Harkin, Wicker Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Establish Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans of All Ages

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Sens. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) today introduced bipartisan legislation to establish physical activity guidelines for American children and adults. The Physical Activities Guidelines for Americans Act would direct the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to prepare and promote physical activity guidelines based on the latest scientific evidence at least every ten years. The bill would also direct HHS, five years after the release of each set of guidelines to publish a report highlighting best practices and continuing issues relating to physical activity among Americans. Regular Physical Activity Guidelines would complement the existing Dietary Guidelines for Americans, first released in 1980.

“We know that regular physical activity is one of the most important things that Americans can do for their health,” said Harkin, who is chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. “This bill would help give Americans clear, science-backed guidelines on physical activity, thus making it easier for them to live healthy lifestyles.”

“Prevention and wellness measures, like those that ensure Americans have access to regular physical activity, are also critical to reducing our health care costs and staving off our epidemic of obesity-related chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer,” Harkin added.

“High rates of cardiovascular disease and obesity are pressing challenges in my home state of Mississippi,” said Wicker.  “Staying active, along with keeping a balanced diet, is essential to a healthy lifestyle.  This legislation is an important step toward raising awareness and setting realistic goals to promote health and wellness.”

At Harkin’s urging, in 2008, the Department of Health & Human Services released Physical Activity Guidelines, and recently released a mid-course review. The Harkin-Wicker bill would ensure that HHS will continue to issue these guidelines and allow Americans to have access to this critical information on a regular basis in the future, since new scientific results and recommendations are continuously unfolding.