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IHRSA Advocate

The IHRSA Advocate is your guide to knowing and understanding the policies that influence daily health club operations. We analyze the action, so you know when to take your own.

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Entries in Federal Update (71)


IHRSA Resolution to Combat Obesity Through Physical Activity Passes US Senate

"On behalf of IHRSA clubs, I would like to thank Senators Casey and Burr for their support of this bill, and commitment to prevention and healthy lifestyles,” said Joe Moore, IHRSA President and CEO. "We want Congress to understand and remain vigilant to the cost-saving role that effective disease prevention measures can play in the health care delivery system."

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WHIP Introduced in Senate

Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa reintroduced the Workforce Health Improvement Program Act (WHIP) as part of a comprehensive wellness bill known as the Healthier Lifestyles and Prevention America Act (HeLP America Act). HeLP is aimed at reducing obesity, chronic disease and health care costs.

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Dietary Guidelines for Americans Released

The federal government unveiled new dietary guidelines this week encouraging smaller portions, lower salt content, fewer sugary drinks and more fruits and vegetables for all Americans. The Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services coauthored the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, to serve as evidence-based nutritional guidance to promote health, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and reduce the prevalence of overweight and obesity through improved nutrition and physical activity.

“Helping Americans incorporate these guidelines into their everyday lives is important to improving the overall health of the American people,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a press release. “The new Dietary Guidelines provide concrete action steps to help people live healthier, more physically active and longer lives.”

To learn more about the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, log on to


IHRSA to Congress: "Prevention is Critical"

In an effort to keep up the drumbeat of prevention in Congress, IHRSA has sent a joint letter to both Senate and House leadership asking them to keep in mind the economic and health benefits of healthy lifestyles as they go forward with discussions on health care reform.

“Preventing chronic disease forthright is the sure-fire way to bring down the long-term cost of health care,” says IHRSA President and CEO, Joe Moore, discussing the letter in a blog post featured on, a leading DC publication, widely read by lawmakers and political figures.

In addition to keeping the focus on prevention solutions, IHRSA has also taken steps to create a stronger coalition of voices in support of prevention. Several organizations co-signed the letter, including the American College of Preventative Medicine, the American College of Preventative Medicine, the American Council on Exercise (ACE), the Exercise is Medicine Global Initiative and the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM).

To read the full letter.


National Prevention Strategy Adopts IHRSA Recommendation

The National Prevention Council’s recently released draft of the National Prevention and Health Promotion Strategy includes a recommendation made by IHRSA in October of last year, to incorporate health clubs as a valuable resource in increasing physical activity. 

The draft strategy includes increasing accessibility to, “parks and playgrounds, community centers, schools, fitness centers and outdoor recreation venues.” [Emphasis added]. These draft recommendations lay the groundwork for a national strategy to reduce obesity, chronic disease and help Americans live longer, healthier lives.

Download the full version of the draft strategy for more information.


Congress Passes Legislation to Support Physical Activity

The legislation allows the President’s Council to raise private donations to fund operations aimed at increasing physical activity and reducing obesity, make strategic grants in support of such goals and increase public awareness of federal policies and programs to improve physical fitness.

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U.S. Prevention Fund Ducks Trouble  

Earlier this week, there were rumors circulating that lawmakers in the Senate were considering taking funds from the $15 billion Prevention and Public Health Fund (established by the health care reform bill) and reallocating them to Medicare reimbursements for doctors. However, lawmakers have appeared to agree to pay for the reimbursements through other sources after experiencing significant opposition to dipping into the prevention funds.

A similar proposal, which IHRSA strongly opposed, was made back in September, which would have slashed prevention funds to cover losses from eliminating certain tax filing requirements. The Senate ultimately voted down the measure.

The Fund, which is designated for the promotion of physical activity, tobacco cessation, vaccine programs and cancer screenings, has been called a “slush fund for jungle gyms,” by one unsupportive Senate aide, according to Politico. It is possible that lawmakers will return to the Prevention Fund to finance other expenditures during the upcoming session, though it is almost guaranteed that they will be met again with strong opposition.


Senate Votes in Favor of Prevention

Yesterday, the US Senate voted in favor of preventative health care, striking down a proposal to strip funding to the Prevention and Public Health Fund. Introduced by Nebraska Senator Mike Johanns, the proposal would have eliminated $11 billion toward the promotion of physical activity, tobacco cessation, vaccine programs, and cancer screenings.

Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, chairman of the Senate Health Committee, led the opposition to the amendment and expressed appreciation for the Senate’s decision.

"We have systematically neglected wellness and disease prevention in this country--as evidenced by the fact that the United States spends twice as much per capita on health care as European countries, but is twice as sick with chronic disease. This amendment perpetuated the disastrous notion that we can neglect and de-fund prevention efforts without paying a huge long-term cost in unnecessary chronic disease and disability--as well as skyrocketing health insurance premiums. In blocking it, the Senate upheld the old principle that an ounce of prevention truly is worth a pound of cure."

Read more about this victory for preventative care, here.


FDA Releases Preliminary Guidelines on Calorie Posting

Health club cafes and vending machines may be affected.

The new health care law enacted in March requires chain restaurants with 20 or more locations to post calorie information on their menus and menu boards.

According to preliminary guidelines released last week, the FDA has expanded the requirement beyond restaurants to other places that offer food, including convenience stores, grocery store food courts and cafes. This could have potential implications for health clubs that qualify as chains, with 20 or more locations, and house cafes on the premises. The FDA would also require vending machine operators who own or operate 20 or more machines to disclose calories for food items.

The FDA plans to release final guidelines on who is covered, and how, in December. 


Federal Government Provides Incentives for Tracking Body Mass Index

For the health club industry, this is another important step in getting the medical community to discuss healthy weight and behavioral modifications, such as exercise, with patients. Research shows that patients, especially those who are obese or overweight want their medical providers to give them direct advice about weight management. However, the same research shows that many doctors are not discussing healthy weight and behavioral modifications. The new incentive program from the federal government could help more doctors to “prescribe exercise as medicine” to their patients.

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