SGMA's New Year's Resolution Is To Get 'PHIT'

It’s time for Americans to get PHIT…..and Congress can help make this happen. SGMA is pleased to report the U.S. Congress will reintroduce the PHIT (Physical Health Investment Today) Bill later this month.
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It's time for Americans to get PHIT…..and Congress can help make this happen. The Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA) is pleased to report the U.S. Congress will reintroduce the PHIT (Physical Health Investment Today) Bill later this month. The goal of PHIT is to encourage more physical activity for all Americans by making it more affordable -- through the use of pre-tax dollars – to play sports, fitness and recreation activities. The PHIT Bill's primary Congressional sponsor is U.S. House Ways and Means member Jerry Weller (R-IL). This bill has made rapid progress from its conceptual stage in September of 2005 to introduction in May of last year. After being introduced, the bill attracted Congressional sponsors across the ideological spectrum both sides of the aisle. SGMA anticipates many more sponsors this year. To kick off this effort, SGMA member companies, celebrity athletes and allies in the PHIT effort will spend a day on Capitol Hill during National Heath-through-Fitness Day on March 7, in conjunction with National PE4life Day. The goal is to get additional Congressional sponsors for this pro-health/activity measure.

PHIT would change current federal tax law to allow for the use of pre-tax dollars to cover expenses related to sports, fitness and other physical activities. Americans could invest up to $1,000 annually to pay for physical activities by placing money in existing pre-tax Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA), Health Savings Accounts (HSA), Medical Savings Accounts (MSA), and/or medical reimbursement arrangements. PHIT would only expand the eligible expenses. It would not increase contribution limits to these accounts.

“Americans will reap long-term benefits from the PHIT Bill. As this country's obesity /overweight problems and related chronic illnesses continue to grow, PHIT is a step in the right direction towards promoting physical activity across the United States,” stated Bill Sells, SGMA's director of Government Relations and chairman of the Public Affairs Committee for the National Coalition for the Promotion of Physical Activity (NCPPA). “This legislation has the potential to alter our health care model from one of treatment to one of prevention of illness. PHIT would encourage all Americans to invest in exercise and physical activities as a way to improve their health.”

According to The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the percentage of young people who are overweight has more than tripled since 1980. Today, 16% (or more than nine million young people in America) are overweight. This alarming increase resulted in hospital costs related to obesity of $127 million from 1997-1999 – up from $35 million in 1979-1981. The CDC estimates that more than 50% of American adults do not get the recommended amount of regular physical activity. More alarming, the CDC projects that by 2015 the nation's health care outlays will reach $4 trillion – 20% of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product. The SGMA is focusing its policy efforts to reduce that burden by developing initiatives that encourage people to be more healthy through physical activity.

According to the Trust for America's Health, more than nine million American children – 15% of all children – are either overweight or obese. That rate of childhood obesity more than doubled from 1980 to 2000. And, 73% of adults could be overweight (34%) or obese (39%) by 2008.

The SGMA is a strong advocate of legislation to create more access and opportunity for physical activity in America. Since 2001, SGMA has secured nearly $400 million in federal funding for the Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP). The PEP Bill has benefited hundreds of thousands of students across the country through the introduction of quality, physical education in schools. Additionally, SGMA has successfully lobbied for the extension of Daylight Savings Time and funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, to provide Americans with more time and space to be physically active.

The Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, owner of the SGMA Spring Market and the Sports Research Partnership, is the global business trade association of manufacturers, retailers, and marketers in the sports products industry. SGMA enhances industry vitality and fosters sports, fitness, and active lifestyle participation. More information about SGMA can be found at www.sgma.com

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