PRESCOTT - Gov. Janet Napolitano is taking aim at the overly ample waistlines of schoolchildren and state employees.
And one of the first things targeted by the governor and her aides are the vending machines filled with high-fat snacks and sugary sodas.
They also want to see what they are eating in the cafeterias. And some additional exercise would not hurt.
"There is a real epidemic of childhood obesity which is what chronic illnesses are based on,’’ said Sue Gerard, the governor’s health policy adviser. And some of the blame for that, she said, rests with the schools.
She said schools have made it easy for children to buy unhealthy items by putting vending machines on campus.
Gerard said the governor is not calling for elimination of these machines, but that schools need to offer more than the usual junk fare.
"There actually is research that shows when kids have healthier choices, they will choose them,’’ she said. "But when you just give them the high sugar stuff and the high carbs, that’s what they’re going to take.’’
That approach is less radical than the one being pushed by state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne. He wants to ban campus sales of anything unhealthy.
"I don’t think the school should be pushing Ding Dongs or Twinkies,’’ he said.
Horne has put together a task force to make recommendations in the next two months to the state Board of Education. He said any plan probably will start out on a voluntary basis, but he will not rule out asking the board for an outright ban on the sale of junk food.
The issues are similar for state workers, Gerard said.
She said that they need to be given healthy alternatives.