Bill Clinton leads childhood obesity fight

Former President Bill Clinton, famous for among other things, his love of fast food, says he has firsthand experience of how unhealthy eating habits can do to a young body.

Clinton says his own weight problem and close brush with death are the catalysts behind his foundation's initiative of tackling childhood obesity.

Speaking to CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Clinton said that bad health habits since childhood, led to his September 2004 quadruple bypass surgery, and the operation opened his eyes to the larger issue of overweight children in the U.S.

Clinton, who admits he was the fat band boy, says the brush with death had the biggest impact of all on him and he realised he had been given another chance.

He quoted Emory University's study which found that obesity alone accounted for 25 percent of the increase in health costs over the last 15 years, and saw a chance to do something that he understood, from his own experience.

Clinton has formed a partnership between the William J. Clinton Foundation and American Heart Association, and an initiative, launched in May, aims to "stop the increasing prevalence of childhood obesity" in the United States by 2010.

Their goal is that by starting children on a path that includes a proper diet and exercise, they'll grow up to be healthy adults and reduce obesity-related health costs.

Other important highlights of the initiative include working with the food and restaurant industry, and the media, on increasing physical activity and improving lunches in schools.

Bill Clinton believes lawmakers should have greater involvement by setting higher standards for school lunches and eliminating junk food in school vending machines.

He has called upon the fast-food industry to 'shape up'.

Clinton himself has made changes since his health scare, and says he has cut down on french fries, eats more fruits and vegetables and incorporates exercise into his mornings.

He wants to teach that lesson to American children.

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