Help us encourage the passage of this bill. Ask your representative to co-sponsor the ENRICH Act!
America needs help in creating healthier diets. Our country’s collective eating habits—fast foods, tremendous amounts of sugar, heavily processed frozen meals and the like—are costing us hundreds of thousands of lives and billions of dollars annually.
America spends an estimated $190.2 billion annually on obesity related health care costs.
It takes almost $100,000 in taxes to cover the lifetime healthcare costs of just one obese American.
We lose 300,000 people every year due to obesity related illness.
Of the top ten leading causes of death in the U.S., seven can be prevented by lifestyle choices based proper nutrition and adequate exercise.
The medical community wants to do more
Ninety-two percent of medical school deans think that physical activity education is important and 90 percent of physicians believe that primary care visits should include nutrition counseling. Most physicians—around 85 percent—however, don’t feel qualified to give nutrition advice.
Only 27 percent of medical schools meet the minimum requirements set by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) for nutrition education. Similarly, only 13 percent of medical schools have required courses on physical activity. When going to a medical professional for help with a chronic condition such as obesity or type 2 diabetes, patients would benefit greatly from getting sound advice on physical activity and what to eat. In fact, research shows that an extra five minutes of consultation from a primary care doctor about nutrition can, on average lead to lower saturated fat intake, improved cholesterol levels and five pounds of weight loss. It seems obvious and vitally important that medical professionals be well-versed in nutrition and physical activity.
What We Can Do
Luckily, the opportunity to make positive changes for the medical education system exists right now in the Congress. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH-13) and Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH-12) have introduced the Expanding Nutrition's Role in Curricula and Healthcare, or ENRICH Act which would allocate already existing National Institute of Health (NIH) funding to help implement a program that would establish grants to accredited medical schools for the development or expansion of integrated nutrition and physical activity curriculum.
As consumers and voters, we have a say, and our representatives should be accountable. Use the form to the right send to them a letter. Currently, the ENRICH Act sits in the hands of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, awaiting a decision as to whether or not it will be passed to the House Floor for a vote. Help us encourage the passage of this bill by asking your-representative to co-sponsor the ENRICH Act.
IMAGE: Rep. Tim Ryan, Mark Hyman, M.D., Jim Hagberg, Ph.D., and Lisel Loy, J.D. ENRICH Briefing via Physicians Committee for Responsibility www.pcrm.org
- A personalized letter can be more effective: Before the first sentence, introduce yourself: include information about your professional credentials or personal experience, particularly if it has relevance to health care, nutrition, obesity or any other related topic (e.g. I’m massage therapist and I have a private practice in [name of county] ).
- After the second paragraph, add a professional opinion or a personal anecdote to explain why you are concerned about the way we eat in the U.S. and how the medical community could be even more helpful with teaching patients about healthy diets. (e.g. I often give my clients advice on eating a healthy diet, but many of them have trouble following it. I often wish that they could have even more support from their medical practitioners in making healthy diet choices.)