Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Sen. Jeff Bingaman Introduces Anti-Obesity Bill

On Monday, May 18, 2009, Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) introduced the Obesity Prevention, Treatment and Research Act of 2009. Among other things, it:
  • Establishes the United States Council on Overweight & Obesity Prevention;
  • Improves access to nutrition counseling and other services for people on Medicare and Medicaid;
  • Establishes a grant fund for various entities like schools, universities, community centers, etc. to do anti-obesity work (could be a great way to start a charter school for obese kids!); and
  • Develops and expands the Department of Agriculture’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program.

I haven't read the bill yet, but at first glance, it's fascinating. I'm not sure about the need to create another bureaucratic structure, but I do like more access to nutrition counseling for poor people and the elderly, and the grants especially. I'm going to a conference next week on public service, and I wish I'd known about this to make it my policy topic instead of what I selected (though I like the other topic too - Legal Aid restrictions.)

Apparently Sen. Bingaman introduced another version of this bill in the previous Congress. I'm not sure if there were any policy differences. He had no co-sponsors, and it never got out of the HELP Committee. I wonder if it will have more juice now, with obesity an even hotter topic than it was last year?

Click here to read the press release at Sen. Bingaman's website.

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