Monday, May. 08, 2006

Kelly Brownell

Kelly Brownell isn't "cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs" and is clearly not "lovin' it" when it comes to fast-food restaurants. One of the leaders in the fight against childhood obesity, Brownell, 54, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale, has helped set the U.S. agenda by calling for a ban on sweetened-cereal ads aimed at kids and a tax on high-fat, low-nutrition food (with the revenue earmarked for children's nutrition). He wonders whether Ronald McDonald on a billboard is any better than Joe Camel.

While I think Brownell is wrong to criminalize Ronald, we agree about the dangers of childhood obesity. With health-care costs rising faster than even gas prices, obesity is a health crisis that could cripple our country for generations to come unless significant changes are made.

Brownell, in my view, oversimplifies the problem by suggesting such steps as removing soft-drink machines from schools, and I fear that a tax on calories would just end up penalizing the poor. All things work in moderation. There is nothing wrong with a child enjoying a modest quantity of Cocoa Puffs or an occasional trip through the Golden Arches. But I agree with Brownell that children and their parents need better food choices and that it's important for kids to get outside for some regular exercise. I thank him for putting us all on the right track.

Huckabee is the Governor of Arkansas. In the two years after he learned he had diabetes, he lost 110 lbs.