The3rd meeting of the Subcommittee on Families and Children of the Interim Joint Committee on Health and Welfare was held on Wednesday, November 17, 2004, at 10:00 AM, in Room 129 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Tom Burch, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Katie Stine, Co-Chair; Representative Tom Burch, Co-Chair; Senators Charlie Borders, Tom Buford, Richard Roeding, Damon Thayer, Elizabeth Tori, and Johnny Ray Turner; Representatives Bob DeWeese, Joni Jenkins, and Jon David Reinhardt.
Guests: Bill Montgomery, grandparents rights advocate; Fran Hawkins, Nutrition Services; Tresa Short, Kentucky League of Cities; and Julie Brackett, American Heart Association.
LRC Staff: DeeAnn Mansfield, Murray Wood, and Cindy Smith.
The minutes of the August 24, 2004 and September 15, 2004 meetings were approved without objection.
The first item on the agenda was an update on Childhood Obesity in Kentucky by Cherri Tolle, MAEd, CHES, University of Kentucky Prevention Research Center, Wendy Carlin, MS, RD, Coordinator, Obesity and Chronic Disease Prevention Program, and James Holsinger, Secretary, Cabinet for Health and Family Services. It was stated that inadequate nutrition and obesity in the United States, especially among youth, have quickly become nationwide health issues. The concerns for Kentucky have become critical. Nearly two-thirds of Kentucky's adults are either overweight or obese. Many of these adults also have a chronic disease such as diabetes, heart disease, or arthritis. These diseases, and others, are directly related to weight. The cabinet presented information today that indicates that, if we continue on our current path, some 15% of Kentucky's youth will risk being overweight or obese as adults and an additional 15% will almost surely be obese as adults. The data presented indicates that the impact on Kentucky is huge. The Centers for Disease Control estimated that Kentucky spent $1.2 billion on obesity costs alone in 1998. The Subcommittee also learned about some of the ambitious actions that are being taken across the state as more communities are trying to tackle this issue. A major effort has been made by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services in conjunction with the Kentucky Prevention Research Center to provide a picture of the problem. The information they presented shows that Kentucky has a higher rate of obesity than the United States as a whole and at all ages males are more likely to be obese than females. However, the percentage overweight and obese is dangerously high across the state and across all education levels. They also found that Kentucky has fewer people that are physically active and eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables than the United States. The Obesity and Chronic Disease Prevention Program, Cabinet for Health and Family Services, and the Governor's regional forums on obesity are addressing obesity in several ways. The forum findings showed that mandatory Physical Education (PE) in K-12 and more organized recess was the number one priority in all regions and an increase fruit and vegetables in vending machines was the number two priority.
Representative Burch asked for an actual number of children that are overweight, instead of a percentage of children. Secretary Holsinger said that number is about 30,000 students.
Senator Roeding noted that Kentucky is generally unhealthy. He asked if there were any comparisons of being overweight compared to smoking, heart disease or lung disease. Ms. Tolle said there would be additional slides that would show the relationship between chronic diseases and being overweight.
Senator Tori asked about physical education being taken out of the school curriculum. Ms. Tolle said out of the nine obesity forums, mandating PE in grades 9-12 was the number one priority.
Representative Burch noted that school site based councils have told him that PE can be implemented in schools at no additional costs, and he believes it should be mandated. Ms. Tolle agreed.
Senator Borders noted that PE should be mandated as in Ohio, and also nutrition classes should be mandated.
The next item on the agenda was an overview on Obesity and Physical Activity by Carol Ryan, Ph.D., Northern Kentucky University, and Dr. Randy Christ, Easter Kentucky University. The subcommittee heard testimony on research showing that physical activity can be worked into the daily activities of children in many ways. Research demonstrates that there is an added bonus that physical activity is positively correlated with learning.
Ms. Ryan presented slides that showed the probability of childhood obesity persisting into adulthood was 80 percent during adolescence and 20 percent at 4 years of age. She noted the difference between physical activity and physical education by saying that student are physically active in physical education, but students are not comprehensively physically educated at recess through sport participation. In regard to daily physical education for all students, only 8 percent of elementary schools, excluding kindergarten, six percent of middle/junior high schools, and 6 percent of senior high schools. The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) does not require physical education in elementary and middle grades. Elementary physical education, when taught, is not required to be taught by a certified physical educator, and high school students complete one-half credit, which is only one semester of physical education in high school. They found that 95 percent of adults feel that physical education should be mandatory at school.
Next, Mr. Christ discussed charts that showed the relationship between fitness levels and academic achievement in California in Grades 5, 7, and 9. He indicated a positive relationship for all grades.
Ms. Ryan noted that the recommended standards for amounts of physical education in elementary schools are at least 150 minutes per week. In middle school and high school it is at least 225 minutes per week.
Ms. Ryan said the subcommittee can help by doing the following: (1) require coordinated school health councils in each school; (2) mandate appropriate equipment and space for participation in physical activities; (3) mandate BMI index be reported to parents and KDE each year; (4) require daily physical education in elementary, middle and high schools; and (5) required certified physical educators in every school.
Senator Stine asked if nutrition and health could be included in the PE segment in school. Ms. Ryan said that usually health is taught by a classroom teacher, but the two issues could be merged. She indicated that physical education does not always mean physical activity.
The next item on the agenda was a presentation on School Health Efforts in Kentucky by Kyna Koch, Associate Commissioner, Office of District Support Services, Department of Education, Rita Moya, Executive Director, Foundation for a Healthy KY, and Paul McElwain, School and Community Nutrition, Department of Education. It was noted that the Kentucky Department of Education and the Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) have been very supportive of school efforts to integrate physical activity and nutrition programs into school curriculums. The KBE recently voted to include a joint resolution proposing that districts and schools establish coordinated school health committees and that KDE develop model policies to comply with requirements of the President's Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004. In addition, organizations such as the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, partners with the KDE to support Coordinated School Health programs. For the 2004/2005 school year, competitive grants and technical assistance by the foundation totaled over $800,000. Health Promotion Schools of Excellence (HPSE) started promoting health education in schools in Jefferson County in 1992. HPSE has health programs in 48 schools in 2004 sponsored by several local community businesses and partners.
Senator Thayer said that the one-half credit mandate for physical education in high school is very weak. Ms. Koch agreed.
Senator Stine asked if there were nutritionists in schools that did the weekly meal planning. Mr. McElwain said that is done at the federal level by nutritionists.
The meeting was adjourned at 12:20 p.m.