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Schwarzenegger, Clinton weigh in on obesity

February 24, 2010 7:44:31 PM PST
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and former President Bill Clinton weighed in on a difficult medical issue Wednesday. The governor hosted a summit on childhood obesity, and among the solutions discussed was new legislation dealing with nutrition and physical activity for kids. Schwarzenegger and Clinton are joining forces to battle an epidemic that's costing the state of California an estimated $50 billion per year.

"Obesity's a huge problem for the state of California and we have one out of three children being obese, two out of five adults being obese or overweight and I think those are staggering numbers," said Schwarzenegger.

"The cost of this is killing us," said Clinton. "I believe that until we get a hold of our lifestyles and the food chain, and how we eat, and how we exercise, we're going to have a serious, serious problem."

Wednesday, fighting childhood obesity was the main topic of discussion at the Governor's 2010 Summit on Health, Nutrition and Obesity: Actions for Healthy Living.

Afterward, Schwarzenegger unveiled several plans of action to get students moving more and eating less empty calories.

Among the proposed bills that would affect public schools: increasing access to free drinking water; eliminating sports drinks at all middle and high schools in the state; increasing moderate to vigorous activity in after-school programs to at least 30 minutes a day; increasing moderate to vigorous activity to at least 50 percent of physical education classes; and expanding the governor's fitness challenge to one million student participants. Other initiative include helping communities develop fitness centers and facilitate fitness-oriented neighborhoods.

"This is the number-one public health challenge of the United States today," said Clinton. "We owe it to our children not to let their children be born with a lower birth weight, not to be the first generation of Americans to live shorter lives than their parents, and we can do it."

The governor's initiatives would give schools until 2012 to make water available, 2011 to ban sports drinks and until 2013 to make sure students are vigorously active in P.E. class.