Kids are not eating any more calories than they were eating 20 years ago,” the Center for Consumer Freedom explained last night on the Fox News Channel’s The Big Story with John Gibson. “This is not about caloric intake. Whether you like it or not, we’ve got to face the fact that it’s a deficit in exercise. And while schools are banning soda, they are also failing to put physical education back in the curriculum. And that’s the real problem.”

This cool, refreshing assessment flew in the face of Connecticut state legislator Joseph Crisco (D-Ansonia), who told Fox News that soda was largely to blame for children’s burgeoning bellies. Crisco recently proposed legislation to ban soda and snacks in vending machines. But his efforts are misplaced, according to former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Mark McClellan, who noted in 2003:


In a debate in which foods themselves are being held to be largely responsible for increasing levels of obesity, actual levels of caloric intake among the young haven’t appreciably changed over the last twenty years.

As we explained to Fox News viewers, a large body of evidence indicates that physical activity is the crucial variable in childhood obesity. Research by University of North Carolina professor Lisa Sutherland found that while childhood obesity jumped 10 percent between 1980 and 2000,
caloric intake rose only one percent. Meanwhile, physical activity declined by 13 percent.

A study published in the journal Pediatrics found that “only 21.3% of all adolescents participated in one or more days per week of PE in their schools.” And an October 2004 report from the Institute on Medicine found that daily physical education classes are only offered in 8 percent of elementary and 6.4 percent of middle schools.

Ironically, Crisco’s crusade against childhood obesity includes a ban on diet soda — which, last time we checked, is a no-calorie drink. And of course his anti-soda legislation ignores the fact that many fruit juices have more calories than regular soda. While Crisco acknowledges that physical activity is a key component to children’s weight, neither of his bills (found here and here) address this critical factor.

As we told Fox News, Crisco is sliding us down the slippery slope “where the government regulates diet and legislators legislate our food choices.” His “solutions” are little more than a big tub of fat government regulations.