Bill Clinton on Health Scare: I Was Very, Very Lucky

02/17/2010 at 04:20 PM EST

Bill Clinton on Health Scare: I Was Very, Very Lucky
Bill Clinton
Larry Busacca/WireImage
On his first day back in the office, after undergoing an emergency heart procedure last week, former President Bill Clinton encouraged kids to avoid the heart problems he has faced by eating healthy and exercising.

"I'm very, very lucky that I didn't have a much worse set of circumstances," he said Wednesday at his office in Harlem where he spoke about the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a partnership between the American Heart Association and the Clinton Foundation. "Everybody knows I went to the doctor last week for a little tune up on my heart. ... I'm glad to be back to work."

While his latest trip to the hospital was caused by a failed vein – a complication from his quadruple bypass in 2004 – the former president said, "The root causes were the habits I acquired in my childhood, mostly the way I ate and the way it interacted with my own biology and propensity to produce bad cholesterol."

He added, "I ate too much fried food, too much ice cream, too much everything."

While the former president's current prognosis is "excellent," according to his doctors, he used his recent health scare to draw attention to the epidemic of childhood obesity, one of the problems his foundation has sought to address through the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.

"Many, many young people are facing exactly the same circumstances I did unless they change their eating and exercise habits," he said. "They may or may not be as lucky as I was."

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