Congressman Cuellar Secures $2.5 Million in Additional Federal Funding to Combat Obesity Nationwide
New funds will help tackle costly disease
Today Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX-28) announced that he secured a $2.5 million-dollar increase in federal funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Outreach Program to Reduce the Prevalence of Obesity in High Risk Areas (those counties with an obesity rate above 40 percent). Hidalgo County is the only county in the congressman’s district that meets the program’s criteria. Congressman Cuellar secured the additional funds through the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 government funding bill passed last month. In FY 2016, the program will have a total of $10 million.
“The health and well-being of our community is something I take very seriously,” Congressman Cuellar said. “I have always supported legislation, like the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, that promotes nutrition, healthy weight, and fitness. Investing in federal programs that aim to reduce obesity is smart public policy. Preventive health care helps our citizens lead longer, healthier lives and reduces our spending on medical care. This money will give our communities the resources they need to better tackle obesity and the many diseases associated with it.”
The Texas A&M University AgriLife Extension Office receives funding from this program to work with local officials in Hidalgo County, where obesity rates are over 40 percent, to implement obesity prevention strategies. Hidalgo County extension coordinators are in the process of organizing coalitions of local leaders to address obesity and focus on what small rural areas can do to improve access to healthy food and safe opportunities for physical activity, including improving local farmers markets, local parks, and access to exercise equipment.
“The CDC Outreach Program to Reduce the Prevalence of Obesity in High Risk Areas is vital to helping communities like Hidalgo County create healthier environments,” said Jenna Anding, professor and Extension specialist with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. “We appreciate the congressman’s work to increase funding for projects that groups like ours can use to change the habits and food options that are linked to obesity.”
Obesity is a major public health problem in the United States. According to the CDC:
• More than one-third (34.9 percent or 78.6 million) of U.S. adults are obese while almost 32 percent of U.S. children and adolescents between the ages of 2 and 19 are overweight
• More than half of those children are considered obese.
• 42.9 percent of adults in Hidalgo County are obese.
• Children and adolescents who are overweight or obese have a higher risk of developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and abnormal glucose tolerance, which are risk factors for developing heart disease, diabetes and other dangerous health conditions.
• Obesity in adults is also associated with an increased risk of a number of conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, and certain cancers, all of which are among the leading causes of preventable death in the United States.