Governor Tom Vilsack says “the trend lines are horrible” when it comes to the growing problem of childhood obesity. But Vilsack says there’d be too much “push back” if the state were to do something like ban vending machines from schools in an effort to curb kids’ calorie overload.
Vilsack met today (Wednesday) with about a dozen dieticians who argue soda pop should not be sold in any school, but Vilsack says parents need to be the ones to teach their kids healthy eating and drinking habits. “If you expose kids to soda early in life, they’re going to acquire a taste for it,” Vilsack says. “If they make a choice of a sugared-drink, then that adds calories and they’re sitting behind a computer screen and scarfing down a couple of Mountain Dews, then naturally they’re going to gain weight.”
Vilsack says his eldest son doesn’t drink pop because he wasn’t given pop as a child. Vilsack has fought to control his own weight since childhood. “My mother at one point in my life there was a cartoon of this very, very large kid with a beanie-style hat and his stomach was protruding well over his pants and she put that right on the refrigerator door so every time I opened the refrigerator door I could look at this,” Vilsack says. “I still have memories of it, obviously.”
Vilsack says he tries to make healthy eating choices, but his wife is a “really, really good baker” so his answer is to run between 35 and 45 miles per week. “That’s been a lifesaver for me and I think hopefully provides some example to folks,” Vilsack says.
Vilsack, however, took the elevator rather than the stairs to descend from his third-floor appearance at the Iowa Dietetic Association’s meeting in the State Historical Building.