Congressman Cohen and Senator Booker Introduce Reducing Obesity in Youth Act

September 14, 2021
Press Release
Incentivizes positive dietary and physical activity behaviors

MEMPHIS -- Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today introduced legislation to address the epidemic of childhood obesity in America. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey introduced a companion bill in the Senate. The measure, the Reducing Obesity in Youth Act, has implications for the future health of American children and has a bearing on future national health care costs and national security. 

Today, one in three American teens and children is overweight or obese, placing them at risk of a host of cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease, stroke and diabetes. 

Congressman Cohen made the following statement: 

“I have long been concerned that Tennessee has one of the highest childhood obesity rates in the nation. The national childhood obesity rate is dangerously high but, in recent years, Tennessee has trended even higher than the national average. These already challenging circumstances have only been exacerbated by the ongoing public health crisis, which has had serious impacts on the health and well-being of children and families. Fortunately, research has shown that early childhood is an important time for developing positive dietary and physical activity behaviors. I am pleased to partner with Senator Booker to introduce the Reducing Obesity in Youth Act that would encourage and support these positive behaviors. The House and Senate bills being introduced today would create a competitive grant program to incentivize the development of earlier health and nutrition education environments for our children. We have to help our children get healthy starts so they can lead healthy lives.” 

Senator Booker made the following statement: 

“As childhood obesity rates continue to rise, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to implement initiatives that promote healthy eating habits and physical activity among our children. I’m proud to reintroduce this bicameral legislation that will fund grant programs in local communities to help them lower obesity rates and ensure a healthier future for our youth.”

The Reducing Obesity in Youth Act would create a grant program to assist in the development of healthier early care and education environments to improve healthy eating and physical activity among children from birth through 5 years of age.  

The bill is supported by Nemours Children’s Health System (Nemours).

Its Executive Vice President and Chief Population Health Officer, Dr. Kara Odom Walker, said:

“The pandemic has compounded the stressors on children and families. ROYA would help to bolster efforts to support access to nutritious foods at a critical time in a critical place. Nemours has shown that by incorporating a focus on healthy eating and physical activity into early care and education settings, we can support the development of healthful habits. We applaud Senator Booker and Congressman Cohen for working to introduce legislation that builds upon Nemours’ pioneering work and would benefit children and families across the country.”

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month.