Ark. Gov. Wins By Losing (Weight)

A protester walks past the shuttered main entrance of the finance ministry, sprayed with a slogan that reads "I won't pay, the measures will not succeed" left over from a previous protest, in Athens, April 28, 2010.(AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis
Most politicians seem to change once they get in office, but as CBS News Correspondent Wyatt Andrews reports, Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has traded in his entire body.

Huckabee used to weigh 280 pounds. His current weight, 170.

"The southern word for it is he's just fat," says Huckabee. "He's a fat boy."

A fat Southern boy raised in the culture of fried everything

"Fried tomatoes, fried potatoes, fried catfish, fried Twinkies at the state fair. As if a Twinkie isn't challenging enough to one's nutritional values," says Huckabee.

When his doctor diagnosed diabetes, Huckabee decided to change his life. Then he decided much of Arkansas needed to lose weight too.

"As long as I was obese, I could hardly get in front of the people of my state and say, 'Folks, we have an obesity epidemic, and by gosh we have to do something about it.'"

And so the state began by weighing every school child. They put them on the scales, and the result was shocking. Forty percent of Arkansas schoolchildren were found to be overweight, with a third of them in line to get diabetes. Parents were warned in letters their children were risking their health.

One of those letters came to the home of 11th grader Mary Catherine Fortier.

"I'd say mommy, 'Give me candy, I want candy,'" says Mary Catherine.

She and her father Rick resent that the state has become the fat police.

"I don't like it,'' sayd Mary Catherine. "He can't just tell me I need to lose weight, because I already know it and I'm trying."

"It's not the state's business," says her father.

Huckabee believes obesity is the state's business, because taxpayers will pay the catastrophic Medicaid costs for obesity-related disease.

"If it is my business as governor to make sure that the air is clean and the water is clear, how on Earth could someone say that it's not the business of the government to at least care that its citizens are grossly overweight, and it's going to cost us a bankrupt-level amount of money," says Huckabee.

And that's why, leading by example, the governor is up and running at five in the morning.