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Department of Education Awards $32 Million in Nutrition and Physical Activity Grants – The U.S. Department of Education awarded 60 grants totaling nearly $32 million to Local Education Agencies (LEAs) and community-based organizations (CBOs) under the Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP). Recipients of PEP grants must implement healthy eating and/or physical fitness programs that help students make progress toward meeting their state standards for physical education.  The PEP program is aligned with and supports First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Active Schools initiative to get kids moving before, during and after school. Currently, only sixteen states have a policy that aligns with evidence-based guidelines for physical education and physical activity to help schools provide more opportunities for students to be active. Healthy, active students do better in school and in life.  Learn more about the Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP) and school-based policies addressing nutrition, physical activity, & obesity.

USPSTF Issues Draft Recommendation Statement on Screening for Lung Cancer – The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) posted its draft recommendation statement on screening for lung cancer.  Based on the available evidence, USPSTF recommends screening people who are at high risk for lung cancer with annual low-dose CT scans, which can prevent a substantial number of lung cancer related deaths.  USPSTF determined there is a reasonable balance of benefits and harms by screening people who are 55 to 80 years old and have a 30 pack year or greater history of smoking, who are either current smokers or have quit in the past fifteen years.  The Task Force is providing an opportunity for public comment until August 26, 2013.

FDA Announces First Rejection of New Tobacco Products –  For the first time since the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009 gave the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to regulate tobacco products, the agency has denied the marketing of four new tobacco products through the substantial equivalence (SE) pathway.  Reasons for the denials included a lack of evidence to support that the addition of specific ingredients did not raise different questions of public health; a lack of information about the design of the product; and incomplete test data.  The SE pathway is a process in which manufacturers establish that their product is substantially equivalent to a product already on the market thus gaining approval to market the new product. Any product that raises different questions of public health will be found not substantially equivalent (NSE) and will not be allowed to be marketed.  The FDA works to ensure that any new tobacco product authorized through the substantial equivalence pathway will not present more harm to public health than the product with which it was compared.  An SE decision does not mean the FDA considers a product to be safe, nor is it FDA-approved. FDA has a responsibility to protect public health, and to do so, they work to ensure that any new tobacco product brought to market through the SE pathway will not present more harm to public health than a product already on the market.  Read the full announcement: FDA announces first decisions on new tobacco products through the substantial equivalence pathway.

Bill Introduced to Cover Obesity Treatment under Medicare –  Members of the House and Senate introduced the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act (H.R. 2415/S.1184) on June 18th.  The bill comes soon after the recent decision by the American Medical Association to recognize obesity as a disease. It is intended to make it easier to cover obesity treatments that range from counseling for those affected by it to medication.  For individuals affected by obesity, the impact that it has on their annual medical costs can be substantial. Health care costs related to obesity total nearly $200 billion each year. The bill would allow Medicare coverage of prescription weight-loss drugs and require the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to highlight Medicare coverage of behavioral counseling for obesity.  If passed, the bill would help lower health care costs and prevent chronic diseases by addressing America’s growing obesity crisis.  Nearly 70 percent of Americans are overweight or obese, and 42 percent of Americans are projected to become obese by 2030.  The bill will provide Medicare recipients and their healthcare providers with meaningful tools to treat and reduce obesity by improving access to obesity screening, counseling services, and new prescription drugs for chronic weight management.  Learn more about the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act of 2013.