Sen. Carper Introduces Bill to Reduce Obesity

WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) introduced legislation to help lower health care costs and prevent chronic diseases by addressing America’s growing obesity crisis. The Treat and Reduce Obesity Act requires the Department of Health and Human Services to develop and implement a plan to treat, reduce, and prevent obesity and unhealthy weight levels in the adult population. The legislation also gives Medicare additional tools to reduce obesity by increasing Medicare beneficiaries’ access to weight-management counseling and providing the Health and Human Services Secretary with the discretion to expand Medicare coverage of prescription drugs for chronic weight management.

Health care costs related to obesity total nearly $200 billion each year. Furthermore, over 78 million adults in the United States are obese and more than a third of all adults over age 60 are obese. Obesity increases the risk for chronic diseases and conditions, including high blood pressure, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Studies indicate that by 2020, 75 percent of Americans will be overweight or obese.

“With more than two of every three American adults overweight and vulnerable to diabetes, heart disease, disability, stroke, and other chronic conditions due to obesity, our nation clearly faces a growing epidemic that must be addressed,” said Sen. Carper. “We need to act now to improve the health and wellbeing of Americans and lower our health care costs. My legislation provides the Department of Health and Human Services with important tools to help American adults and seniors take more responsibility for their health and wellness. If Americans lead healthier lives then we can prevent many of the ailments and diseases that reduce our quality of life and drive up our health care costs, lessening the burden on everyone.”

Sen. Carper is a leading advocate on the need to curb the nation’s high obesity rates. A member of the Senate Finance Committee, he co-authored the Affordable Care Act’s employer-sponsored wellness program provision, which gives employers more tools to encourage employees to lead healthier lifestyles by lowering health insurance premiums by 30 percent or more for employee participation in weight loss, smoking cessation, and other wellness programs. He also co-authored provisions in the Affordable Care Act that require restaurants and other retail food outlets with 20 or more locations nationwide to disclose nutritional information about their standard menu items.