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Murkowski Recruits Military Bases to Improve Fitness and Help Youth “Shape Up”

Lauded by Campaign to End Obesity, Senator’s Bill Gives Officials Ability to Open Base Gates for Exercise, Increases Awareness on Health

WASHINGTON, DC — Senator Lisa Murkowski today co-sponsored legislation with her colleague Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) to address the alarming rate of military recruits falling short on basic fitness requirements – often making them unfit for service – by introducing the Fit to Serve Act. The bill would boost nutritional awareness for youth and help improve fitness and health among military age Americans by providing military leaders the ability to voluntarily open their base’s sports fields, gyms and other facilities to youth seeking a place to exercise.

“Obesity is an enormous hindrance for our young people seeking to enlist in the armed forces and a lifelong health issue we can do more to avoid – we need to help our youth shape up,” said Senator Murkowski. “We want our young women and men who seek to serve their country to have basic information on what healthy weight means. Across Alaska and in so many of our rural communities, oftentimes the local military installations provide one of the few options for kids who want a soccer field or track to access for their athletic activities.”

According to a Defense Department report, the U.S. military discharges more than 1,200 first-term enlistees every year because they cannot maintain a healthy weight, and has estimated that nearly one in 20 current service members are diagnosed as clinically overweight.  As the national average of Americans ineligible for military service drastically increases due to weight and fitness standards, the Fit to Serve Act would change the way America’s future service men and women think about their health future by requiring the dissemination of information about healthy weight and body mass indexes (BMI) to potential recruits.

“The childhood obesity epidemic in our country has reached epic proportions,” said Stephanie Silverman, founding member of the Campaign to End Obesity.  “One of the challenges we, as a nation, face when confronting this problem is that there are significant barriers in certain communities that prevent children from receiving recommended levels of physical activity each and every day is a lack of access to safe places to be physically active.  This legislation would help address this challenge and enable children a safe environment in which they can be active.”

Senator Murkowski will receive a 2013 Campaign to End Obesity CHAMPION award next Wednesday for her legislative work and energy on this issue.

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