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March 4 2009 12:00 AM

The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) today expressed its strong opposition to New York Governor
Paterson’s proposed expansion of sales tax to health club dues and services. At the same time, Governor Paterson has proposed an “obesity tax” on non-diet, sugary sodas – he also proposed a new tax on working out. IHRSA believes that proper nutrition and regular exercise will make a healthier New York - making it more expensive to workout simply doesn’t make sense.

“Getting in shape can be tough enough, especially in the winter months, the last thing the state should be doing is making it tougher,” said Joe Moore, IHRSA’s President and CEO. “However, it is especially troubling as New York ranks 2nd among U.S. states in adult obesity-related medical expenditures. As Governor Paterson and Commissioner Daines know, the effects of sedentary lifestyles on our health is devastating and is a significant contributor to chronic diseases which directly impact the economy,” continued Moore. “New
Yorkers need access to tools to lead healthier lifestyles- taxing health clubs is not the answer and this decision leads us further from a solution to the growing obesity crisis.”

New York is engaged in a critical fight to combat the leading consequence of physical inactivity: obesity. Roughly 60% of American adults are overweight or obese, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that $6 billion is spent annually in
New York on obesity- attributed medical expenditures in adults, with $1.3 billion paid by Medicare and $3.5 billion by Medicaid. The health and well being of New Yorkers should be one of the state's top priorities. The state should be doing everything in its power to encourage - not discourage - physical activity.

Unhealthy eating and physical inactivity are major causes of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, obesity, and osteoporosis. Encouraging active, healthy lifestyles could help to decrease the incidence of these diseases and reduce the state's health care burden. Clearly, prevention is key. However, change can only occur with the cooperation of policymakers, individuals and institutions to create a culture of wellness that will begin to reverse the nation’s obesity problem. This begins with support and encouragement for active living through the laws and policies that govern each state and affect all institutions that promote exercise.

IHRSA is a not-for-profit trade association representing over 9,400 health and fitness facilities, gyms, spas, sports clubs, and suppliers worldwide. IHRSA is committed to taking a leadership role in advancing physical activity, which is critical to America's health and the battle against obesity and disease. IHRSA supports effective national initiatives to promote more active lifestyles for all Americans and is working to pass laws that will help effect societal changes toward a more fit America.

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