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House panel backing more obesity education

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 6 2008 12:32 a.m. MST

A resolution urging obesity education and prevention passed unanimously in committee and was placed on the House consent calendar Tuesday afternoon.

Sen. Chris Buttars, R-South Jordan, said the resolution, which is also endorsed by the governor, is the first he's sponsored as a legislator and one that targets himself and about half of all Utahns who are obese by medical standards — 40 pounds over ideal weight for age and body type.

It's a big problem that deserves have three months — January, February and March — not just the usual one, designated for obesity awareness campaigns by health care providers, communities, businesses and schools.

"Too many people think you have to be 400 pounds overweight to be considered obese," Buttars said, noting that obesity is a risk factor in dozens of health-threatening, even fatal diseases and health problems. "Inside the great public issue up for debate this year is the 800-pound gorilla that is obesity."

The Utah Health Insurance Association supports the resolution, said spokesman and former legislator Kelly Atkinson.

"Resolutions are often not taken all that seriously by lawmakers," he said, noting that he is among those addressed in the bill. "But the importance of Utahns understanding what a threat their poor eating habits and general lack of exercise is doing to their health cannot be overstated."

One of the overlooked facts about obesity is that 33 percent of American children are obsese, which is setting up the sceanrio that the upcoming generation will be the first not to live as long as their parents, he said.

The complete resolution, which contains data on the incidents of obesity and diabetes rates, can be found at the Legislature's Web site, www.le.state.ut.us

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