TWENTY-SIXTH LEGISLATURE, 2012
STATE OF HAWAII
A BILL FOR AN ACT
MAKING AN APPROPRIATION FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD HEALTH.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:
SECTION 1. The legislature finds that the early childhood years are critical to an individual's health, educational success, and well-being throughout the life span.
A large body of evidence ties experiences in early childhood with health throughout life, particularly in adulthood. For example, in 2011 the Institute of Medicine's Standing Committee on Childhood Obesity Prevention issued its "Early Childhood Obesity Prevention Policies", which recognized that early childhood has emerged as a critical period for assessing the beginnings of obesity and instituting preventive measures. Childhood obesity is a serious public health problem that has adverse and long-lasting consequences for individuals, families, and communities. Childhood obesity tends to persist into adulthood and increases the risk for chronic diseases, including diabetes. In Hawaii, adult obesity has more than doubled between 1995 and 2009, and childhood obesity increased by thirty-eight per cent between 1999 and 2009. As a result of the increased risks related to obesity, this generation of children may be the first generation not to outlive their parents due to unhealthy lifestyles. Obesity-related medical expenditures in Hawaii were over $323,000,000 in 2009, and are continuing to rise.
Obesity results from an energy imbalance that involves consuming more calories than are expended by physical activity. Body weight is the result of environment, behavior, culture, socioeconomic status, genes, and metabolism. Environment and behavior are prominent factors in whether or not a person may be overweight or obese, and as such, environment and behavior are the most promising areas for prevention and treatment. Many environments that surround children encourage sedentary time, automobile-oriented modes of transportation, and insufficient access to safe places to walk, bike, and be physically active. Low-cost fast food, sugary beverages, and snacks high in calories with low nutritional value, in comparison to healthy options, are widely available. Unhealthy environments that promote over-consumption and create barriers to physical activity compete with establishing healthy behaviors in a child's early years and can lead to obesity and related health problems.
Policies can have a large impact on environments and behaviors that promote obesity. Policies such as the department of education's wellness guidelines have contributed to healthier food and beverages in schools. However, the requirements for health and physical education could be further strengthened. Current policy does not require health or physical education units in middle school grades, although many schools offer these courses as electives.
The department of health, in partnership with stakeholders, has set forth goals and recommendations for decreasing obesity in the Hawaii physical activity and nutrition plan and the physical activity and nutrition plan supplement. Implementing the recommendations in these plans requires government departments and organizations statewide to collaborate to achieve the goals, strategies, and action steps outlined in these documents.
Consequently, the legislature further finds that in order to positively impact the health of Hawaii's children, a task force must be established to update and prioritize policy recommendations for the legislature on measures that will create healthier environments and expand programs and services that promote healthy lifestyles. A policy approach developed by a strategic team of experts from multiple sectors will foster a collaborative process for the review, discussion, and development of recommendations for childhood obesity legislation supported by stakeholders.
The department of health has made significant strides in obesity data collection and analysis. The Hawaii physical activity and nutrition surveillance report describes obesity in the State for middle school students, high school students, and adults. The healthy Hawaii initiative cross-sectional telephone survey provides further data on attitudes and behavior relating to physical activity, nutrition, and obesity. However, neither the report nor the survey addresses young children; additional data collection and analysis is necessary to better understand the contributing factors for obesity among this vulnerable population.
To improve the health of Hawaii's people, we must promote healthy lifestyles from the earliest years that will continue throughout the life span. Preventing obesity in infants and young children holds promise for enabling significant gains toward both reversing the epidemic of childhood obesity and reducing obesity in adulthood.
SECTION 2. (a) There is established a childhood obesity prevention task force to develop and recommend legislation related to the prevention of childhood obesity.
(b) The task force shall be composed of:
(1) The director of finance, or the director's designee;
(2) The director of commerce and consumer affairs, or the director's designee;
(3) The superintendent of education, or the superintendent's designee;
(4) The director of health, or the director's designee;
(5) The director of human services, or the director's designee;
(6) The director of taxation, or the director's designee;
(7) A representative from the department of the attorney general;
(8) A representative from the state advisory council on early childhood education and care;
(9) A representative from the board of education;
(10) A representative from the department of the attorney general;
(11) A representative from the University of Hawaii's department of public health sciences;
(12) A representative from the University of Hawaii's John A. Burns school of medicine;
(13) A representative from the American Heart Association;
(14) A representative from the American Cancer Association;
(15) A representative from the American Diabetes Association;
(16) A representative from the Hawaii Association for the Education of Young Children;
(17) A representative from the house of representatives;
(18) A representative from the senate; and
(19) A representative selected by the governor.
(c) The director of health shall serve as the chairperson or may designate a chairperson and vice-chair person.
(d) The childhood obesity prevention task force shall:
(1) Assemble accurate research, fiscal and demographic information, and justification to support policy development, and track outcomes; and
(2) Research other state, county, and organizational policy agendas and suggested best practices related to childhood obesity prevention policies.
(e) The task force may create subcommittees for the purpose of developing policy recommendations.
(f) The task force shall meet at least monthly from July through November 2012.
(g) The task force shall be administratively attached to the department of health.
(h) Members of the task force shall not receive compensation for their services but shall be reimbursed for necessary expenses, including travel expenses, incurred in the performance of their duties under this Act.
(i) The task force shall report its findings and recommendations, including proposed legislation, to the legislature no later than twenty days prior to the convening of the 2013 regular session, and shall be dissolved on June 30, 2013.
SECTION 3. There is appropriated out of the general revenues of the State of Hawaii the sum of $ or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2012-2013 to:
(1) Collect and analyze Hawaii-specific early childhood obesity data to identify children at risk;
(2) Increase awareness of the health implications of early childhood obesity;
(3) Promote best practices through community-based initiatives to improve healthy life choices; and
(4) Establish a task force to develop and recommend legislation related to the prevention of childhood obesity.
The sum appropriated shall be expended by the department of health for the purposes of this Act.
SECTION 4. This Act shall take effect on July 1, 2012.
Health; Early Childhood; Task Force; Appropriation
The summary description of legislation appearing on this page is for informational purposes only and is not legislation or evidence of legislative intent.