July 24th, 2008
01:26 PM ET

Taking the fight to the Senate floor

By Jen Pifer
CNN Medical Senior Producer

It is amazing to me how children "speak truth" where adults often fail.  Granted, it usually happens at the worst time possible.  Take for instance a recent situation with my favorite 4-year-old, Arden.  We were on vacation.  A lady walked by.  Arden, with typical preschool honesty said in a very loud voice, "Miss Jen, that lady is FAT."  I wanted to melt into the floor.  I am sure the lady heard what Arden said, but she just kept walking.  Mortified, I felt terrible.  I quickly gave Arden the "words can sometimes hurt" talk.  But you know something? Arden was right.  The lady was not just heavy, she was obese.

In Washington, D.C., some senators are "speaking truth" to a reality many of us would like to ignore: Obesity is an epidemic in the United States.  On Wednesday, a group of senators introduced the Federal Obesity Prevention Act of 2008.  If the bill becomes law, it will create "a federal interagency taskforce responsible for creating a national strategy for combating obesity across America." (See press release)  Obesity isn't a made-up health crisis my friends; according to the Centers for Disease Control, an estimated 66 percent of U.S. adults are either overweight or obese.  An estimated 17 percent of children and adolescents ages 2-19 years are overweight (More Info).  Being overweight is not just uncomfortable; it can lead to some serious diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

I have been thinking about this bill.  On one hand, I am pleased to see Congress trying to do something about our growing obesity problem.  Yet, I also wonder if it really will get people to change their eating and exercise habits.  Also, does the government have a right to tell us how much we can weigh?  I would love to hear your thoughts.

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.