Iron Chef

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Childhood obesity has reached epidemic levels in the United States.

Florida dairy farmers are hoping to promote healthier eating and exercise habits among kids, using an international celebrity. The iron chef is cooking up excitement in Bay County schools.

Celebrity British chef Jon Ashton may have an accent, but Southport Elementary students had no trouble understanding his message about healthy eating.

The iron chef and dietician Jennifer Whittaker use big smiles and goofy jokes to get kids to listen to the important message. That message, as Ashton puts it, is curing obesity with love and happiness.

Jon Ashton said, "When you're smiling and laughing, it just feels good. See, I can see you smiling. It feels good to smile and laugh; that's what life's about."

Ashton tries to get kids to think about their food in a healthy way and motivate them to get up and move.

Heather Whittaker added, "If you're on a sports team, that definitely counts."

Hopefully milk, cheese and yogurt will stay on the students’ minds, and not necessarily their heads, considering some staggering statistics.

"Nine out of 10 girls and seven out of 10 boys are not getting enough calcium, so we could face an osteoporosis epidemic in years to come."

The Florida dairy farmers also want parents to get involved. They have a website with some nutritious recipes that you and your children can prepare together. Just log onto

Iron chef Jon Ashton also visited Millville Elementary School this morning. He's scheduled to appear on NBC's Today Show in June.