American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown released the following statement today on the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) report, Educating the Student Body: Taking Physical Activity and Physical Education to School, and the re-introduction of the FIT Kids Act in Congress:

“This new IOM report reminds us once again that the nation’s schools are on the frontline of the fight against childhood obesity. We fully support the IOM’s recommendation to create a whole-of-school approach that encourages students to receive 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily. The American Heart Association welcomes the IOM’s reinforcement of our longstanding recommendation and efforts to work with school districts to offer quality physical education courses during which students spend a significant amount of time participating in moderate to vigorous physical activity. 

From their first day of school, our children are instructed that proficiency in math and reading literacy will put them on the path to becoming successful adults. But too often they are not educated in the skills that will help them lead a healthy and happy life free of cardiovascular diseases, stroke and other chronic illnesses. As the IOM report advocates, schools must create environments that promote the lifetime benefits of physical activity and help students incorporate it into their daily routine.

Our organization remains committed to raising the public’s awareness about the powerful link between childhood obesity and cardiovascular disease. One solution we strongly support is the Fit Kids Act, which was re-introduced today by Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), in the Senate and by Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.), and Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.), in the House of Representatives. This legislation would strengthen physical education programs throughout the country by providing grants to schools across the country to implement physical education programs. The bill would also require educational agencies to monitor and report on the amount of time students spend engaging in physical activity and education compared to national standards endorsed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  The new IOM report makes a similar recommendation.

We are also pleased that Representatives Kind and Schock have introduced legislation today that would require regular updating of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. This legislation, which was introduced in the Senate in March by Senator Harkin and Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) in March, would ensure that these critical guidelines are regularly updated and are based on the latest and best scientific evidence.”