January 25, 2005
Task Force on Food, Farm and Nutrition Policy
(518) 455-5203

Ortiz Bill to Require Obesity Analysis as Part of "Health" Report
Legislation would require body mass index information be sent home to parents

(Albany, NY) - Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, (Brooklyn), Chair of the Task Force on Food, Farm and Nutrition Policy would like parents to receive information about their children's weight status along with their grades. He is proposing legislation that requires schools to include an annual Body Mass Index (BMI) percentile by age for each student as part of a confidential health report sent to parents and require schools to annually provide parents with an explanation of the possible health effects of body mass index, nutrition and physical activity.

"In order to fight the child obesity epidemic we need to first help parents realize their children are overweight or at risk of becoming overweight. Schools gather height and weight information every year and this can be used to determine the student's Body Mass Index (BMI) which can then be shared with the parents. Of course just the BMI is not enough, we must provide the parents with information about the significance of their child's BMI and the importance of improved nutrition and physical activity."

The NYC Health Department found that nearly half of elementary-aged children are overweight. According to the NYS WIC Association over 32% of the children age 2-5 who are participating in New York State are overweight or at risk of being overweight. This leads to illnesses such as diabetes in young children. CDC research determined that one in three U.S. children born in 2000 will become diabetic in their lifetime unless children start eating less and exercising more.

Ortiz also sponsored the law creating New York's Childhood Obesity Prevention Program in the State Health Department and sponsors other bills to: require nutrition labeling on chain restaurant menus; require health insurance coverage for Medical Nutrition Therapy; increase the quality and quantity of physical education in schools; restrict the sale of junk food in schools; screen for diabetes as part of the annual school health physical; and, provide funding for obesity prevention efforts through levies on junk food, video games and advertising.

New York State Assembly
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