Former President Bill Clinton, who recently lost 24 pounds on a vegan diet, fully supports New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposal to ban the sale of super-sized sugary soft drinks, citing alarming national diabetes and obesity statistics.
"I think he's doing the right thing," Clinton said on CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight on May 31, 2012. "And let me explain why: We worked in 14,000 schools, trying to help improve the school lunch offerings and what's in the vending machines.
"We got a voluntary agreement from all the soft-drinks people to [pull full-calorie soft drinks from schools in 2006]. It has reduced by 88%, the total calories going to kids in vending machines and cafeterias."
[Editor's note: Clinton was referring to a joint program launched in 2006 by the American Heart Association, the William J. Clinton Foundation and the American Beverage Association to pull full-calorie soft drinks from school vending machines.]
Clinton, 65, stressed that Americans must scale back on the consumption of sugar and other unhealthy foods to prevent the epidemic of diabetes and obesity in the United States, especially among children.
"We've got this explosion of diabetes in America among young people," says Clinton. "For the first time, Type II diabetes is showing up in 9-year-olds and among the Baby Boomers who are retiring. And together, these things are going to bankrupt us. It's a terrible human tragedy, and it's basically too much sugar going into the body, we can't process it all.
"So if you get rid of these giant, full-of-sugar, drinks and make people have smaller portions, it will help. I know a lot of people think, 'Well, this is a nanny state and [Bloomberg is] interfering.' But these are very serious problems. It's like shortening your life and undermining the quality of your life and exploding the cost of our healthcare system."
Clinton, who was overweight his entire life, switched to a plant-based vegan diet in 2011 and lost 24 pounds after undergoing a quadruple heart-bypass surgery in 2004, and getting two stents placed in his coronary artery in 2010.
Bill, a longtime lover of hamburgers and other fast food, says he needed to make the dietary change given his family history of heart disease.
"When I had my second heart incident [in 2010] and I had the stents put in, I had passed all my physicals, I was doing great, but I was still building up plaque in my arteries," he recounted. "So I decided that I wanted to see if I could live to be a grandfather, so I just went all the way.
"Now, I try to eat some salmon once a week, but I don't miss any of that. Getting rid of the dairy was great, getting rid of the meat was -- I just don't miss it. Not everybody is as vulnerable to [heart disease] as I am.
"All of us produce a certain amount of enzymes that destroys our own bad cholesterol. However much extra we produce determines how much we can ingest. And unfortunately, we can't measure it. So I just said, 'I don't want to take any chances,' and I feel great, lost a bunch of weight."
But Clinton underscored that overhauling our diets on a national scale is not only good for our health, but makes good fiscal sense.
"If you look at the American healthcare system, spending almost 18% of income on healthcare, that's a big reason people don't get pay raises," says Clinton. "Small businesses want to give their employees pay raises, but they have to spend it on the health premiums instead. It's killing them.
"Of the trillion dollars [Americans spend on healthcare], I would say about $200 billion of it is completely related to diabetes and its dependent consequences, which is a function of how we eat."
Bill Clinton supports Michael Bloomberg's soda ban, gushes about vegan diet - National Celebrity Fitness and Health | Examiner.com