Yum-o!’s Executive Director Attends Senate Hearing on Childhood Obesity

July 25, 2008  • 

(Washington, DC) — On July 23, 2008, Andrew Kaplan, Yum-o!’s Executive Director, attended a hearing held by the Senate Subcommittee on Children and Families. This was the second hearing in two weeks focused on America‘s childhood obesity epidemic. The first hearing was part of a series titled, "Childhood Obesity: The Declining Health of America’s Next Generation," and focused on what was causing children in America to be overweight.

Pictured above: Jonathan Miller, a recent high school graduate who lost 127 pounds after enrolling himself in his high school nutrition program

This second hearing focused on what can be done to reverse and prevent the effects. The hearing was chaired by Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT), who started with a very powerful statement: "It’s time to call this what it is: a medical emergency." He then went on to say, "We’re not talking about a few children who eat too many sweets and don’t exercise. We’re talking about an entire nation that needs help getting back on the right track, and it starts with our children."

Four witnesses were in attendance. The first was Dr. Joseph Thompson, the first Surgeon General of the State of Arkansas (only two other states have surgeon generals); Jonathan Miller, a recent high school graduate who lost 127 pounds after enrolling himself in his high school nutrition program; Phil Dwyer, President and CEO of Central Connecticut Coast YMCAs; and Susan Neely, President and CEO of the American Beverage Association. All witnesses shared the work they do, why they do it and how it is making an impact on this issue. The subcommittee also took questions and comments from audience members.

The next step that Senator Dodd is proposing is the Federal Obesity Prevention Act of 2008. This legislation, co-sponsored by Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), would establish a federal interagency taskforce that would be responsible for creating a national strategy for combating obesity across America. While this is very broad mandate, it would initiate critical steps along the path to raising awareness and taking action on this issue on a national scale.

 

Senator Dodd concluded, "Obesity is quickly becoming a medical emergency of hurricane-like proportions…We know the havoc it is already wreaking on our families, on our society and on our healthcare system, which is already strained to the breaking point. And we have the tools to fight it."

Senator Dodd and his colleagues are taking the initiative to listen to the stories of everyday people and those who are in the field implementing solutions within their communities. More information about the Federal Obesity Prevention Act of 2008, as well as a downloadable video of the hearing, is available, here.