WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Vern BuchananVice Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and Chairman of the Health Subcommittee, and Congresswoman Gwen Moore (D-WI) announced the launch of the bipartisan Congressional Preventive Health and Wellness Caucus. The caucus will work to bring awareness to the burgeoning obesity epidemic in the country and help promote and advance policy-centric solutions. Specifically, the bipartisan group will focus on prevention, Medical Research and Innovation (MRI), Food as Medicine (FAM), exercise, health disparities, coverage, stigma, obesity’s effect on military readiness and physical fitness.

This will be accomplished by:

  1. Quantifying the cost of obesity to the U.S. as a whole and to federal health care programs as well as the potential savings incurred by preventing obesity
  2. Introducing legislation focusing on the prevention, research, and treatment of obesity
  3. Holding congressional hearings and briefings on tactics to address obesity in healthcare programs
  4. Holding congressional roundtable discussions on regional obesity issues and solutions

“Obesity is one of the leading causes of heart disease, diabetes, stroke and other chronic diseases, even increasing the risk of certain kinds of cancers,” said Congressman Buchanan. “With a staggering 43 percent of adults and 20 percent of children in the U.S. suffering from obesity, it’s clear we need to get serious about this growing health care crisis and give people the tools they need to tackle this disease and ultimately live longer, healthier and happier lives.”

As the costs and other consequences of the obesity epidemic intensify, so too does the interest of members of Congress in finding solutions for this national crisis.  Solutions to the Obesity crisis have been a major topic for several members of Congress at conferences, briefings and roundtables. Buchanan spoke about expanding patient access to obesity solutions during recent panel discussion where he shared his views on obesity prevention, which included the saturation of overprocessed foods, access to green spaces, proper diet, access to healthy foods, the importance of exercise and placing a focus on health prevention. 

“I’m so excited to join my colleague Rep. Vern Buchanan in creating a caucus focused on tackling the obesity epidemic, promoting health and wellness for all Americans, including support for federal programs that will help achieve those goals, and empowering Americans to improve their quality of life,” said Congresswoman Moore.

The Joint Economic Committee economists estimated in 2023 that Medicare and Medicaid will spend $4.1 trillion on obesity and obesity-related diseases between 2024 and 2033. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), roughly 74 percent of adults in the U.S. are overweight, including 43 percent who are considered obese. Lastly, the increase of childhood obesity in the United States has tripled since the 1970’s.

The rising obesity epidemic is also a national security issue. According to the American Security Project, obesity rates among active duty servicemembers doubled in the past decade. As we face growing threats from our adversaries across the globe, we cannot afford to have an unfit and unhealthy military to address major international dangers. Shockingly, according to the CDC, just over 1 in 3 young adults aged 17-24 are overweight and unable to serve in our military.

Buchanan recently led a bipartisan letter with Congressman McGovern (D-MA) and seven lawmakers to Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) to ask the Council to take additional steps to better prepare physicians to screen and treat diet-related disease, a pressing need that is highlighted in the National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health.

In addition to being the Vice Chairman and most senior Republican on the powerful U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, Buchanan is also the Chairman of the Health Subcommittee, which has broad jurisdiction over traditional Medicare, the Medicare prescription drug benefit program, and Medicare Advantage.