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Press Release: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to Co-lead Alliance for a Healthier Generation

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The Alliance for a Healthier Generation announced today that California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will join former President Bill Clinton as the co-leader of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. The Alliance is a non-partisan, joint initiative of the William J. Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association, which seeks to reverse the trend of childhood obesity in America. Governor Schwarzenegger succeeds former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee who served as co-leader from the Alliance's launch until leaving office earlier this year.

“Governor Schwarzenegger is a tireless advocate for physical fitness and wellness,” said President Clinton. “I look forward to working together to improve the health and lives of countless young Americans, and I’m grateful to Governor Huckabee for his critical work and dedication to launching this effort.”

The Alliance for a Healthier Generation is dedicated to working with schools, industry, children and healthcare professionals to prevent childhood obesity and help all children live healthier lives. Since it’s inception in May 2005, the Alliance has brokered voluntary agreements with major beverage and snack food companies to provide more nutritious options for vending machines in schools. The Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program is working to create healthier learning environments by improving what children eat, expanding access to physical activity and improving school staff wellness.

“Ensuring the health and well-being of our children is my top priority,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “I am excited to head the Alliance for a Healthier Generation with former President Clinton, and to build a bipartisan coalition to reverse the dangerous, growing trend of childhood obesity. Prevention of this unhealthy epidemic is crucial to improving the welfare of all our young people. That's why I have enacted the toughest school nutrition standards in the nation, so we can start early to avoid health problems later in life. The Alliance for a Healthier Generation enables us to combat childhood obesity before it begins, so our children can live longer, healthier lives.”

Earlier this year, Governor Schwarzenegger outlined his comprehensive plan to reform California's broken health care system by addressing the hidden costs that result in billions of dollars in higher premiums. A key component of the Governor’s plan is prevention, making it easier for Californians to make healthy choices and encouraging people to take personal responsibility. The plan calls for Healthy Action Programs— which reward people for taking preventative health actions— such as quitting smoking, better managing their diabetes, losing weight, and participating in breast cancer screenings and immunization programs— with vouchers and credits for health-related goods, services and items, such as gym and weight management program memberships. In addition, the Governor's plan supports a healthier California by promoting patient safety through preventing and reducing medical errors, better preventing and treating diabetes, helping Californians kick tobacco and tackling the obesity epidemic.

The Governor’s 10-Step Vision for a Healthy California and Summit on Health, Nutrition and Obesity are calls to action that have brought focus and momentum to the fight against obesity. The Governor signed landmark legislation to enact the toughest school nutrition standards in the nation and to create a new California Department of Public Health, which will enhance public health response.

“California has been a model state in terms of passing legislation that combats childhood obesity. The removal of unhealthy snacks and beverages at school campuses and their replacement with fruits and vegetables in school meals illustrate Governor Schwarzenegger’s strong commitment to addressing childhood obesity,” said Ray Gibbons, president of the American Heart Association. “The Alliance will benefit from the Governor’s desire to promote healthy living, including his recent development of The Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, through which he is encouraging all Californians to meet their personal physical fitness and health goals. As co-leader of the Alliance, it is our hope that his efforts will expand beyond California and that children across the country will benefit from his innovation.”

“I was honored to be asked by President Clinton to serve as the inaugural co-leader and lead governor on the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, I’m sure Governor Schwarzenegger will go a great job carrying the torch from here,” said Governor Mike Huckabee. “It’s a sad fact that childhood obesity is one of the nation’s leading public health threats and the Alliance has already made great strides in providing the necessary tools and solutions to improve the well-being of our next generation.”

About the childhood obesity epidemic

Today, over 12.5 million children in America are overweight and 13 million are at risk of becoming overweight. The number of overweight children and adolescents ages 6-19 has nearly tripled since the mid-1970s. The obesity epidemic is taking its toll, as more and more children are developing conditions and diseases typically associated with adults. It is estimated that 1 in 3 children born after the year 2000 will develop type II diabetes. In addition, if the trend lines of this epidemic continue unchecked, the current generation may become the first in American history to live shorter lives than their parents.

About the Alliance for a Healthier Generation

The Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association partnered in May 2005 to create a new generation of healthy Americans by addressing the leading public health threat of childhood obesity. The Alliance’s overall effort targets four key areas to spark change and encourage healthier lifestyles for young people: industry, schools, healthcare professionals and kids.

In partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program takes a comprehensive approach by supporting schools seeking to improve the nutrition of the foods sold in schools, to provide high-quality physical and health education programs, to offer after school programs that incorporate physical activity, and to establish staff wellness programs. The Healthy Schools Program is providing hands-on technical assistance to 230 schools across 13 states. More than 700 additional schools are in the program’s virtual network. Schools can achieve bronze, silver, gold and platinum level recognition for progress in creating healthier learning environments based on criteria developed by the American Heart Association.

In 2006, the Alliance reached voluntary agreements with major beverage and snack food companies to sell more nutritious products in schools. In May, the Alliance announced an agreement with Cadbury Schweppes, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and the American Beverage Association to establish new guidelines to limit portion sizes and reduce the number of calories available to children during the school day. In October, the Alliance announced a breakthrough collaboration with the Campbell Soup Company, Dannon, Kraft Foods, Mars and PepsiCo to establish the first-ever voluntary guidelines for snacks and side items sold in schools giving children healthier snacking options in schools. Following the original announcement, the Snack Food Association endorsed the guidelines and the Bachman Company, Rudolph Foods Company, Shearer’s Foods, and Ubiquity Brands also committed to the Alliance’s first-ever voluntary guidelines for snacks and side items sold in schools.

In the fall of 2005, the Alliance and Nickelodeon partnered to create the Let’s Just Play Go Healthy Challenge—a comprehensive on-air, online and grassroots movement that encourages kids to make their lives, schools and communities healthier. The goal is to create a nationwide Go Healthy Challenge that aims to engage 2 million kids by 2008 in a movement that will empower them to eat better and exercise more. To date, over 200,000 kids have signed up to take the Challenge. Other national partners working with the Alliance to reach kids and families include the NBA, Rachael Ray and Channel One. Serving as local ambassadors for the Go Healthy movement are local American Heart Association Affiliate offices across the country, which have kicked-off the grassroots component to the campaign.

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