Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communication Office
Governor Fletcher Signs Governor's Fitness Initiative

Press Release Date:  Thursday, April 27, 2006  
Contact Information:  Brett Hall
Jodi Whitaker
Troy Body

House Bill 646 Creates Governor’s Council on Wellness and Fitness

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Governor Ernie Fletcher today signed House Bill 646, the Governor’s Wellness and Physical Activity Initiative, at the Lexington Christian Academy’s Walk for Diabetes and Health, held in conjunction with the American Diabetes Association.

“I applaud both chambers of the General Assembly for passing this vital measure to bring greater focus on combating the lifestyle issues that are destroying the health of Kentuckians,” said Gov. Fletcher. “With this initiative, we will promote a healthy lifestyle for all Kentuckians.”

“This measure offers a comprehensive, multi-generational focus on improving health and wellness for all Kentuckians,” said Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr (R-Lexington). “Kentucky's health status is just too important not to take action.”

The Governor’s Wellness and Physical Activity Initiative will implement a health, wellness and fitness program for Kentucky. The initiative creates the Governor’s Council on Wellness and Fitness, attached to the Governor’s Office, as well as an office within the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to operate the program and provide assistance to the council.

The council will establish the direction of the wellness program and promote the program. The budget includes funding for the initiative of $1 million in fiscal year 2006-2007 and $1.5 million in fiscal year 2007-08.

The office within CHFS will develop and operate a comprehensive Web site to allow all Kentuckians access to useful health, lifestyle and physical activity information and tools. The Web site will include the Governor’s Fitness Challenge, where participants will be able to log in to the Web site and track their physical activity. Participants will earn prizes and incentives based on their level of activity.

“Raising the profile of fitness is crucial to improving the health status of Kentuckians,” said Rep. Jeff Hoover (R-Jamestown). “The passage of this bill shows that the state is committed to the well-being of our citizens.”

“We must continue to increase our efforts at promoting wellness across the commonwealth,” said CHFS Secretary Mark D. Birdwhistell. “The Governor’s Fitness Initiative will be a motivating force in helping Kentuckians get healthy.”

Kentucky spends an estimated $1.16 billion on obesity-related illnesses each year. Sixty-three percent of Kentucky adults are obese or overweight and 30 percent of Kentucky high-school students are overweight or at risk of becoming overweight. Since 1990, the problem of obesity in Kentucky has been above the national percentage and continues to grow.