Monday, July 27, 2009

July 27: Sniglets On National Health and Jim King

By Sylvia Gurinsky

A great report by NBC chief science and health correspondent Robert Bazell about the national obesity crisis led off tonight's NBC Nightly News. It included some words by former President Bill Clinton, whose foundation has spearheaded a campaign to reduce obesity in the country.

Clinton, a one-time fast-food junkie whose 2004 open-heart surgery helped convert him to healthier habits, will undoubtedly do his best. But the most effective campaign could come from the man currently in the White House.

Barack Obama, battles with cigarettes and once-a-month cheeseburgers aside, exercises frequently; the Obama family has been eating a healthy diet, with an emphasis on organic food, in the White House.

Obama runs a country that lost its way to good health years ago. The fitness craze of the 1970s and early 80s has given way to a fast-food craze and record numbers of overweight adults and children. Blame can be spread around and includes the increasing number of restaurants with fried foods and fatty menus, and school districts that allowed soda and vending machines into their cafeterias with expectations that money would be raised for classrooms.

So-called fitness shown on television these days is in exaggerated form (Example: The so-called reality program "The Biggest Loser") and fad diets, instead of healthy ones, are emphasized in media and in bookstores. Another culprit is the number of hours spent in front of computer screens, rather than engaging in healthy activities.

In promoting health-care coverage, Obama has discussed preventive care. He could and should say more about one aspect of that care - diet and exercise. He should also take a close look at The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, which hasn't gotten much attention in recent years, and put emphasis on it as a focal point for good health for children and adults.


Farewell to Florida Sen. Jim King of Jacksonville, who died yesterday at age 69.

King, a Republican who was once Senate president, could be infuriating in sticking to the party line at times - sympathy for the family of race-car driver Dale Earnhardt resulted in a vote to close all autopsy records in the state. In 2003, he let party pressure influence him to vote for a law to prevent removal of the feeding tube of Terri Schiavo - a decision he later publicly said he regretted.

But King could also reach across the aisle, with legislation that helped the environment. He had written the "Death With Dignity" law 21 years ago. And his joie de vivre and enthusiasm made friends all over.

So long to a friend of Florida.

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