TODAY   |  January 18, 2012

President Clinton waging war on childhood obesity

Former president Bill Clinton is helping more than 13,000 kids across the country make eat healthier and keep fit to combat childhood obesity. NBC’s Dr. Nancy Snyderman reports.

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>> this morning on today's health the fight against childhood obesity. former president bill clinton is working with 13,000 schools across the country to provide healthier meal choices to millions of kids.

>> i would sit home and eat probably something i shouldn't be eating when i wanted burgers, fries. i would go home, sit on the couch and meld into it.

>> reporter: a common problem for nearly 25 million children in this nation who are overweight or obese. today a war is being waged on the front lines and students are getting support of the school. ultimately choosing healthier foods and opting for exercise.

>> one thing i notice you don't have is a fryer.

>> oh, no. this is what a kitchen looks like in a school. there are no fryers. we have increased vegetable consumption by 30% over what we had in the beginning.

>> the driving force behind this --

>> hi!

>> reporter: former president bill clinton . his emergency heart surgery several years ago forced him to change stubborn habits. a realization he hopes will motivate others, especially the young. why do you see the investment in the kids as important?

>> children need enough of the right kind of food to grow and develop their bodies and brains. when i had all these heart problems i realized this was totally unexamined.

>> reporter: a multi faceted approach combining healthy food and exercise is key to the initiative.

>> you will see people come into the cafeteria and complain if there aren't oranges.

>> reporter: and here at ps-2 elementary in west new york /new jersey students participate in activities ranging from scheduled class breaks to an indoor fitness trail . even teachers attend physical fitness boot camp . the philosophy is catching on.

>> kids spend six to eight hours a day in school. they want school to emulate the environment that they want to produce at home.

>> this is in the dna of the school district now.

>> reporter: they're having fun!

>> they are. they're into it.

>> reporter: for "today," dr. nancy snyderman , nbc news, west new york , new jersey.

>> just ahead, the top family-friendly