Fighting Obesity

Carbonated soft drinks will be taboo in high schools across Florida if the governor's task force on obesity has its way. The task force voted Monday to ban the drinks from campuses and now wants physical education required for all four years of high school.

A Coca Cola machine in a high school lunchroom contains no soft drinks. They are banned by state rule on high school campuses until at least an hour after lunch, but saying schools must set good examples, the governor's task force on obesity voted to recommend soft drinks be banned completely from school campus.

At Leon High School, low fat brownies fly off the counter. Food service managers say the providers are slowly getting the message.

"It is a little more expensive, but you know then we have to sell it for a little more.
The brownies are selling for a dollar," said Tim Tankersley.

But the governor's task force thinks healthy choices may never be enough if kids don't learn to exercise more. It is likely to recommend that high schools be required to increase the amount of physical education required from one credit to four...making it mandatory all four years.

"Just let them see everything aerobic exercise, weight training, jogging, running, martial arts, tai chi, yoga. After they have a wide variety, now they have a choice what they want to do for the rest of their life," said James Bell.

The task force recommendations now go to the governor who must deal with the political reality that more PE will cost money, and banning soft drinks will take money out of schools.

And without more money, expanding PE classes would have to come at the expense of something else. The task force report is expected to go before the legislature early next year, and it's up to lawmakers to decide if these recommendations become reality.