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Ruben Studdard Says Fitness is Important

Ruben Studdard is telling kids in Alabama not to be like him.

The “American Idol” winner, who is a spokesman for the Scale Back Alabama weight-loss campaign, spent Tuesday taking a fitness message to schools in hopes of helping Alabama shed its weighty reputation.

“I don’t want y’all to be like me. I don’t want y’all to get to college and stop working out and forget all the things you have to do to be healthy,” Studdard, 28, told students at Montgomery’s Capitol Heights Junior High School.

“I want y’all to continue working out for the rest of your life so you don’t have to start all over like Ruben Studdard, trying to get yourself back into shape,” he said.

Studdard said in December that he had started a weight-loss program in the summer.

His comments Tuesday came a few hours after state Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks and State Superintendent of Education Joe Morton unveiled an Alabama KidFit initiative at a news conference across town.

Flanked by children wearing the program’s yellow T-shirts emblazoned with pictures of fruits and vegetables, Sparks and Morton expressed dismay at Alabama’s persistent ranking near the top of the nation’s list for obesity.

“This generation of young persons in Alabama … could be the first generation that does not outlive their parents in age span,” Morton said. “That’s frightening.”

Randy Owen of the country group Alabama and his wife, Kelly, are featured on the KidFit DVD, which encourages parents and their children to adopt healthy lifestyles.

Nearly 350,000 DVDs and brochures will be distributed to public schoolchildren.

Two years ago the Alabama Obesity Task Force implemented guidelines that changed school lunch menus and what is sold in campus vending machines in efforts to improve nutrition. Last summer the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington gave Alabama a “B plus” for its nutrition policy, citing tough restrictions on junk food and carbonated drinks.

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