Nightly News   |  January 17, 2012

Bill Clinton tackles child obesity

The former president formed the Alliance for a Healthier Generation to help kids stay active and eat better food. NBC’s Chief Medical Editor, Dr. Nancy Snyderman, reports.

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>>> and there's news tonight about one of the key risk factors for type 2 diabetes -- obesity. and tonight, in new numbers just out, the cdc finds about 1 in 3 american adults and 1 in 6 kids and teenagers in this country are heavy enough to be considered to be obese. the good news, if there is any, is that the numbers are holding steady and not going up right now. tonight, our chief medical editor dr. nancy snyderman rt ros ro reports on how a former president who's been scared straight and almost died for his past habits is doing his part for some of those kids.

>> reporter: with nearly 25 million american children overweight or obese, the war is being waged on frontlines. a major initiative has found its way into school, most in urban districts , changing its menu from frozen to fresh, from sodas to freshly squeezed juices.

>> i don't see a fryer anywhere.

>> oh, no. this is what a kitchen looks like in a school. there are no fryers.

>> reporter: and you might be surprised to learn who is behind it.

>> hi.

>> reporter: former president clinton 's emergency heart surgery several years ago forced him to take a second look, not just at improving his own health but others as well.

>> why do you see the investment in these kids as so important?

>> children need enough foot, the right kind of food to grow and to develop their bodies and their brains. and then if they don't get the right kind, it can slow them down dramatically. when i had all these heart problems , i realized that all of this was totally unexpected when i was growing up. i just decided that we ought to try to do something about it.

>> reporter: so the clinton foundation formed the alliance for a healthier generation. to tackle the child obesity generation with a multifacetted approach that goes beyond what's on the dinner plate. at ps 2 elementary in new jersey, the youngest children take regular breaks to get active.

>> let's warm up.

>> reporter: older ones follow an indoor fitness trail , featuring a variety of different exercises. even teachers get into the act, and it's acatching on.

>> when you grow up, you can be strong, to play basketball and soccer and more sports.

>> if you came back tomorrow without a camera and no notice, you would see the same things you're seeing today. this is in the dna of the school district now.

>> reporter: dr. nancy snyderman , nbc news, west new york , new jersey.