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May 22, 2024

In Case You Missed It: Reps. Schweikert and Harris Dive Into the Economic and Social Costs of Obesity

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative David Schweikert (AZ-01) delivered his weekly House floor speech this week alongside his colleague, U.S. Representative Andy Harris, M.D. (MD-01), where they discussed the importance of addressing the obesity crisis to tackle the nation’s rising federal debt. Rep. Schweikert defended the concept that having the difficult conversations in addressing rising obesity rates is actually moral and guided by the concept that Congress needs to invest in health care innovation to improve lives, reduce obesity, and dramatically lower medical costs. Dr. Harris helped provide further insight on technical aspects of health and wellness and how neglecting these virtues contributes to large amounts of government spending.
Excerpts from the floor speech can be found below:

Click here or on the image above to view the representatives’ conversation.

Rep. Schweikert on developing policies that contribute to the morality of healthier living:

[Beginning at 7:54:09]
“I have come [on] here, and we have talked about diabetes  diabetes being 33% of all U.S. health care[spending]and 30% of Medicare spending, [along with] the cascade of conditions that come from obesity in America. The fact that the morality of loving our brothers and sisters and having a healthier society, and my economists, right now [are] working on a reply to the President’s budget, and we are vetting all the math and highlighting things. But a preliminary view, and we are still two more weeks from our publication, we estimate that obesity will result in anywhere between $8.2 [trillion] and $9.1 trillion in excess medical expenditures over the next decade. Maybe the most powerful thing you and I could do for U.S. sovereign debt, and [to keep from] burying our grandchildren and great grandchildren in piles of debt, would be working on polices to actually make us a healthier society.

Dr. Harris on understanding the increased prevalence of societal obesity over the past 60 years:

[Beginning at 7:58:08]
“The first thing you have to do is say, ‘what is the history of obesity in the United States?’ If people look around and people are honest, I have been on this Earth 67 years, and I will tell you it has been noticeable that more Americans, and it’s true throughout the world, are obese or overweight. If you are higher than the normal range of weight, you are overweight. If you are slightly higher, and then you’re obese if you’re higher than that,and severe obesity, we used to call it morbidly obese as well. Using these definitions, the same definitions, in 1962, 3.4% of adults were considered obese. It’s not overweight but obese. It’s more than overweight. And in 2000, 30.5% [of adults were obese]. In 2016, 39.8% [of adults were obese]  eight years ago, and the latest data that is from 2017-2020  41.9% of Americans classified as obese. Why is that classification, and by the way, the demographic breakdown is interesting. We ought to be looking at the demographics and paying attention to where it exists in the population.

Rep. Schweikert on honing in on the idea that healthier living is ethical:

[Beginning at 8:09:55]
The morality argument I really want us to make, is the way we design these programs, they were originally, as they were designed decades and decades and decades ago, we now understand, we’re financing people’s misery  instead of financing the opportunity to be healthier, to be part of society, to actually live longer. It’s uncomfortable. But we have to have a moment of honesty. And I don’t understand the Left’s fixation on basically using borrowed money to finance misery.

Dr. Harris on the disappearance of crop variety contributing to skyrocketing obesity rates:

[Beginning at 8:15:30]
The fact is that we can send a strong economic signal through our ability to modify what is available under food programs  not only direct payments but also the fact over the past 50 years, we kind of funneled all the production into several only a handful of major crops. In my district they used to grow tomatoes. I didn’t even know this. But it’s not. It’s just soybeans and corn. But the variety of crops has just disappeared. And again, everything comes together, and everything points in the same direction. We must address the obesity crisis. We know what causes it, and we have a pretty good idea of how to solve it and how to get there. But we have to decide that’s something that we need to do. And I think the average American understands. I think they do.

Congressman David Schweikert serves on the House Ways and Means Committee and is the current Chairman of the Oversight Subcommittee. He is also the Vice Chairman on the bicameral Joint Economic Committee, chairs the Congressional Valley Fever Task Force, and is the Republican Co-Chair of the Blockchain Caucus, Telehealth Caucus, Singapore Caucus, and the Caucus on Access to Capital and Credit.

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