Promoting Physical Activity for Americans Act Passes through Senate Committee

In July the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee approved unanimously the “Promoting Physical Activity for Americans Act.” The act makes provisions for the review and update of the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), at least every 10 years. The bill is supported by the American College of Sports Medicine and a number of other national organizations and sport governing bodies.

“The act promotes physical activity by ensuring that Americans of every age and physical aptitude – and their health care providers – are well informed about the types and amounts of physical activity that people should perform to gain important health benefits,” said Jim Whitehead, CEO of the American College of Sports Medicine. “Regular review and updating of the guidelines takes advantage of the latest science bearing on issues related to physical activity and public health.”

According to HHS, 68 percent of adults and 16.9 percent of children in the United States are obese or overweight. Poor diet and physical inactivity cause more than 400,000 deaths each year, according to the CDC. High rates of obesity underlie disturbing increases in chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, coronary heart disease and more. Seventy-five cents of every dollar spent on health care goes toward treating chronic diseases.

The Promoting Physical Activity for Americans Act will:

  • Require the Secretary of HHS to publish a report that provides physical activity recommendations at least every 10 years based on the latest scientific evidence
  • Midway through each 10-year cycle, a second report would detail evidenced-based practices and highlight continuing issues with respect to physical activity” and “may focus on a particular group… or on a particular issue relating to physical activity”
  • Help fight the growing obesity epidemic by including separate exercise guidelines for children, individuals with disabilities and other population subgroups, as needed

The act will also have a significant impact on health care providers. Up-to-date federal guidelines allow physicians and other health care providers to make recommendations based on the latest science and evidence. The guidelines are a foundation document and an essential tool for everything from community health programs to educational curricula to the National Physical Activity Plan.

Now that the act has been passed by the committee, it will next move to the full Senate for vote.