Fighting Obesity

The governor's task force on obesity submitted its final recommendations at the Florida capitol Friday.

Nearly one out of four high school students in Florida is overweight or at risk of being overweight. Senior Meredith Clements isn't one of them, but she agrees schools need to take a more active role in helping kids make healthy choices.

Meredith Clements, student, said, “I think taking coke machines out of the schools is a good decision and the meal plans, maybe re-thinking those is a first step, and just getting kids more aware of health issues.”

She's right on track. New recommendations from the governor's obesity task force include nutrition classes for all students from kindergarten through 12th grade, minimum physical fitness standards for healthy students, and healthy alternatives to traditional vending machine fare.

The task force also recommends longer lunch times so students can actually enjoy their meals. State Rep. Rulio Robaina wants to take the recommendations a step further and require gym class for all students through 12th grade unless they can prove they're already active.

Rep. Julio Robaina, (R) Miami said, “If these kids are involved in an extra curricular activity, whether it's school-sponsored sports programs or those which parents usually sign them up, which is soccer, football, baseball, they will meet the criteria.”

While mandating physical education may be tough to get through the legislature this year, the State Agriculture Commission Department has already started partnering with schools to get kids to eat better.

“We have two fruits and vegetables each month added to the diets of these young people and ask them to try it.”

Florida has a lot at stake. Diseases linked to obesity cost taxpayers more than $38 billion a year.

Other recommendations from the governor's task force on obesity include eating family meals together whenever possible and spending no more than two hours on a computer a day.