The2nd meeting of the Subcommittee on Families and Children of the Interim Joint Committee on Health and Welfare was held on Wednesday, September 19, 2007, at 10:00 AM, in . Senator Katie Stine, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Guests: Clyde Caudill for KASA, Gwen Cobb for the Department for Public Health; Chris Gorman for Jewish Hospital and St. Mary's Hospital; Paul McElwain and Bonnie Brinly for the Kentucky Department of Education; John Warmack for the Christian Science Committee on Publication; Julie Brackett for the American Heart Association; Ted Bradshaw for KDA; and Tiffani Jackson for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.
LRC Staff: DeeAnn Mansfield, Ben Payne, and Cindy Smith.
First on the agenda was a presentation on promoting physical activities in schools, by Tonya Chang, Advocacy Director, American Heart Association. She updated the members on obesity statistics in Kentucky. She said that Kentucky has the 7th highest rate of adult obesity and the 1st highest number of high school students who are overweight. Kentucky also has the 3rd highest rate of physical inactivity. A consequence is that the chronic disease rate is also high in Kentucky. Kentucky has the 6th highest heart disease mortality rate and the 7th highest number of adults diagnosed with diabetes. Overweight children have an increased risk of hypertension, high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes, asthma, and psychosocial issues. She presented data showing that the estimated cost of medical expenditures for obesity in 2003 was greater than $1 billion. Other consequences of high rates of obesity include more missed school days and a lower military recruiting pool. Ms. Chang stressed the importance of physical activity in schools. Since children spend large amounts of time at school, it is an ideal setting to systematically address the issue, provide opportunities to engage in and reinforce healthy behaviors, and schools have a vested interest. She also mentioned a poll indicating that the public believes schools should be part of the solution and that many states have been mandating physical activity in schools. She stressed that there is a coordination between academic performance and physical activity. Time spent in school participating in physical activity does not take away from education, but is a part of education.
Senator Stine asked if the federal government has given any thought to physical activity. Ms. Chang said there has been an emphasis on public awareness, media campaigns, work-site wellness initiatives and there has also been federal grant money awarded for the Fit Kids Act in Congress.
Senator Stine asked about the President's Physical Fitness Award. Ms. Chang said there is currently no systematic program for that.
Senator Stine noted that studies have shown that obese and overweight children miss more school days than other students. Representative Burch noted that studies also have shown that boys do not exercise as much as girls do, and boys tend to fall behind because they don't get the physical activity they need. Senator Stine also noted that kids with ADHD are helped and perform better at school when they are involved in physical activity.
Senator Stine asked what problems have been reported in mandating physical activity in schools. Ms. Chang said that a statewide mandate would go against KERA and local control. Senator Stine noted that CATS is a statewide mandate and asked if the physical activity mandate could be part of CATS. Ms. Chang said that had been discussed, but that schools wouldn't want to be responsible for BMI levels, and other things that maybe involved in a mandate.
Representative Burch commented that before the obesity bill was passed that school superintendents were against the bill because of the children not wanting to eat vegetables. He noted that kids now love the food that is served. He said the answer is to put physical activity back in schools and schools would be better because exercise has to be a part of it.
Next on the agenda was an overview of the Mayor's Health Hometown Movement by Dr. Adewale Troutman, Director, Louisville Metro Department of Public Health & Wellness. Dr. Troutman said that culture changes have resulted in a sedentary lifestyle. He said the key is to change the culture. He said the Mayor's Hometown Movement will rekindle the support for change so that physical activity is the norm. He reported some very high statistics including that 74 percent of African American women in Jefferson County are obese or overweight. An objective of the movement is to reduce the obesity level by 10 percent. He also indicated that the city has the support and cooperation of several local businesses and organizations. He said businesses are involved in work-site wellness objectives. There has also been a Take Charge Challenge initiative, which has been very successful. He mentioned that incentives are available when goals have been reached by workers. He also discussed the mini grant program that was started in Jefferson County. He said that there have been $130,000 in mini grants on the city level in the last two years. He also discussed other programs offered in the city such as the Elementary and Middle School Track Initiative, the Bike Summit, Hike and Bike Events, and Pedestrian Summits. He also noted that the WIC Program does not cover fruits and vegetables, which surprised the members.
Representative Burch asked how the outcomes of the initiatives are measured. Dr. Troutman said the baseline data for the last two years is available and that the Risk Factor Survey can be looked at over time, but outcome measures will take longer.
Representative Burch asked about the faith based feedback from churches. Mr. Troutman said it has been very positive and pastors are also giving messages about health and wellness.
Last on the agenda Tiffani Jackson, Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator, Office of Special Programs, Transportation Cabinet, discussed programs and initiative in Kentucky to promote the development of bike and walking paths. She said the Kentucky Bicycle and Pedestrian program was established to support and encourage bicycling as viable forms of transportation. It is also available to prepare, assist and promote bicycle and safety programs throughout the state and to recommend opportunities for bicycle-pedestrian facilities for proposed highway improvements. She discussed the Safe Routes to School program that enables and encourages children to walk and bicycle to school by developing safe and appealing routes. She said that last year $1.7 million was awarded in Safe Routes funding impacting 32 schools in Kentucky. This year $1 million has be awarded impacting 34 schools.
Senator Stine asked for the amount of fiscal money for the Complete Streets Program as well as the costs incurred by other states versus their benefits. Ms. Jackson said she did not have those figures with her, but would get that information for the committee members.
Senator Stine asked what the funding was for the Safe Routes to Schools Program was. Ms. Jackson said it was about $2 million.
Senator Buford asked if schools contact Ms. Jackson's office for help with plans when they are in the process of building new schools. Ms. Jackson said they are supposed to contact them, but they don't always do so.
Senator Buford also encouraged the Transportation Cabinet to use money that the legislature had allotted to make purchases in the Rails to Trails program.
The meeting was adjourned at 11:20 a.m.