Kids’ health focus of Bill Clinton’s keynote speech
BY MITCH DUDEK Staff Reporter email@example.com May 6, 2012 9:06PM
Former President Bill Clinton delivers the keynote presentation to the National Restaurant Association at the Arie Crown Theater in Lakeside Center on Sunday May 6, 2012 in Chicago. | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times
Updated: June 8, 2012 8:16AM
Former President Bill Clinton was 60 minutes late to his keynote speech Sunday at McCormick Place but lightened the mood of an anxious National Restaurant Association crowd within moments of taking the stage.
“Somebody asked me once, ‘What’s the worst thing about suddenly being without all that power?’ and I said, ‘Nobody plays a song when you walk in the room anymore.’ For the first three months, I never knew where I was, I’d walk in a room and was suddenly disoriented,” said Clinton, who blamed foul weather for his tardiness.
Clinton, who spoke for an hour at the NRA Show 2012, devoted a large chunk of time detailing the battle he waged against childhood obesity in the U.S. after leaving office.
Following his 2004 heart surgery, Clinton formed the Alliance for a Healthier Generation with the American Heart Association and began dissecting the problem.
“I learned for example that our children who have particular weight problems, an extraordinary percentage of them were getting 50 to 60 percent of their daily calories just from the drinks they consumed at schools,” Clinton said.
“We got together with the big players in the soft drink industry ... then we got more and more of the people who put the juices in the vending machines.”
At Clinton’s urging, a healthier business model was drawn up.
“Four years after that agreement, in over 90 percent of the schools, there has been an 88 percent reduction in the total calories in drinks shipped to our schools to be served in vending machines or cafeterias, no tax, no regulations, no nothing, a simple agreement by people who found a way to pursue a legitimate business strategy and save our kids’ health,” he said.
“There is a very narrow knife edge between falling off the cliff into hunger and falling on the other side where you’re not hungry. You can buy food, but you don’t have enough money to buy healthy food.”
Clinton also praised the National Restaurant Association’s commitment to children’s health initiatives. The association touts thousands of eateries that offer healthy foods for children.
“I don’t want to come here and make you mad, because, you know, Hillary’s got a traveling job, and so I spend an inordinate amount of time in restaurants,” Clinton quipped.