Washington, D.C. – American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown issued the following statement today on the latest version of the transportation legislation approved by Congress last week:
“The transportation legislation passed by Congress today jeopardizes the safety and health of kids all across America.
Under this current bill, funding for biking and walking projects would be cut by 60 to 70 percent. Dedicated federal support would be eliminated for Safe Routes to Schools, a popular and cost-effective program that makes walking and biking to school safer. Additionally states would be allowed to allocate this funding for other purposes, which would weaken local control.
Since 1980, the number of children and adolescents who are overweight or obese has grown to nearly one out of three. Because of the numerous chronic diseases associated with obesity, such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes, today’s children are on a path to becoming the first generation with a shorter life expectancy than their parents.
The Safe Routes to School program can help reverse this terrible trend by bolstering physical activity to keep our kids healthy. Research indicates that children who walk or bike to school are not only more active and maintain a healthier weight, they also perform better in school and have less truancy and disciplinary problems.
In a recent report, the Institute of Medicine made five recommendations for preventing and solving the nation’s obesity crisis. The first recommendation is to integrate physical activity into people’s daily lives by providing opportunities to walk and bike. This aligns with the American Heart Association’s recommendations of regular physical activity to help everyone live a heart-healthy life.
The American Heart Association is disappointed that the current transportation legislation cuts dedicated funding for Safe Routes to School, along with the funding for walking and biking paths around the country. These funds are essential to tackling the nation’s obesity problem and supporting physical activity for America’s children.”