Health Care Reform Bill Also Promotes Healthy Lifestyles & Wellness

June 02, 2010

By Laura Fillenwarth

Throughout the debate on health care reform, HSC worked to highlight the connection between our nation's health and the way we integrate wellness into the school environment with healthy eating and opportunities for physical activity.

As HSC founding executive director Rochelle Davis said in the New York Times recently, “Look
at the agony our country is going through over health care and the
struggle to handle a sick nation… We just have to connect
the dots and get people eating right and get people moving. Healthy
school food is a logical part of that.”

The health care bill that Congress passed (H.R. 3200, America’s Affordable Health Choices of
2009)
includes several measures to promote health in the public
school system as well as measures to promote wellness and prevention of illness among all age groups. Some of these measures include :

Nutrition Labeling of Standard
Menu Items at Chain Restaurants

Chain
restaurants with twenty or more locations doing business under the same
name must disclose calories on menu boards and in a written form.
Additional information pertaining to total calories and calories from
fat, amounts of fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, total and
complex carbohydrates, sugars, dietary fiber, and protein must be
available upon request.

Providing information to consumers is an important part of helping people make healthy choices. We know that it is especially effective when complemented by nutrition education that helps people understand that information and put it to use.

Understanding
Health Disparities: Data Collection and Analysis

Any ongoing
or federal health care related surveys will report data on race,
ethnicity, gender, geographic location, socioeconomic status, language
and disability status, in addition to data at the geographic level.
Trends in health disparities will be detected, monitored, and
disseminated. At HSC, we are concerned about health disparities and work to ensure that healthy food and opportunities for physical activity are available at school for all students,  especially those hard-hit by the epidemics of childhood obesity and asthma.

Employer-Based Wellness Programs

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) will provide employers
with consultation and tools in evaluating wellness programs and build
evaluation capacity for these programs in workplaces. CDC will study and
evaluate employer-based wellness practices. Staff wellness is an important part of creating a culture of wellness in the school environment.

Funding for Childhood Obesity Demonstration
Project

$25 million has been appropriated between
2009 an
d 2013 for the Children's Health Insurance Program
Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA) to manage a Childhood Obesity Demonstration
Project.

We're pleased to see these measures included in the health care bill. They are part of a national movement — including Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign, the work of advocates nationwide and changes at school districts across the country — to make schools healthy places for all students. We look forward to seeing these changes implemented and continuing the work to promote wellness in every school.

Plus: To learn more, check out this post from the HSC blog archives: Vilsack Connects Healthy Eating and Reduced Health Care Costs (9/24/09)