WASHINGTON—Three gold medal-winning Olympic athletes are asking Congress to fight childhood obesity by passing the Healthy School Meals Act of 2010, H.R. 4870. Swimmer Amanda Beard, soccer goalkeeper Hope Solo, and gymnast Nastia Liukin have written to lawmakers in support of the bill, which would help school food service programs serve more fruits, vegetables, and healthy plant-based vegetarian meal options.
“I always try to set a positive example for young people,” writes Hope Solo, who led the U.S. women’s soccer team to a gold medal victory in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. “I’ve noticed a major factor affecting children’s health is the food they’re putting into their bodies. We need to make sure children grow up with eating habits and lifestyles to keep them healthy.”
“I work with young swimmers around the nation to help them overcome obstacles and set high goals,” writes Amanda Beard, 2008 co-captain of the U.S. women’s Olympic swimming team and winner of seven Olympic medals. “But these young athletes face one tough challenge no young person should have to struggle against—the meals they’re served at school are often swimming in fat and cholesterol.”
“I started competing in gymnastics when I was only 6, so I know how important healthful food is to children’s energy levels and development,” writes Nastia Liukin, the 2008 all-around Olympic champion and winner of five Olympic medals. “If we don’t give students the opportunity to try delicious, healthy foods now, the obesity epidemic is not likely to subside anytime soon.”
The Healthy School Meals Act of 2010 was introduced in March by Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado. The bill, which is supported by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, aims to reverse America’s rising tide of childhood obesity. The percentage of overweight and obese children is now at or above 30 percent in 30 states, according to a recent report from the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.