Dr. Kenneth Cooper, the world-renowned physician who essentially invented jogging as exercise, published his first bestseller, Aerobics, in 1968. His Dallas-based Cooper Aerobics Center, a sprawling fitness campus specializing in lifestyle changes for heart health, turns 40 this year.

During his career, Cooper, a former Air Force flight surgeon who designed NASA’s physical conditioning program for astronauts, developed the fitness tests used by military branches and professional athletic teams worldwide — including the 1970 World Cup-winning Brazilian soccer team.

More recently, he has become passionately involved in the fight against childhood obesity, urging lawmakers to pass Senate Bill 530 last session, a measure requiring greater physical education and fitness tests in Texas schools. He has also collaborated with PepsiCo to help eliminate trans fats from Frito-Lay snack foods.

Cooper, who has logged more than 38,000 miles running, sat down with the Tribune to talk about health care reform, the obesity crisis in Texas, what lawmakers must do to shore up the physical-education legislation they passed last session, and a little plan he calls the “8-5-3-2-1-0.”

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Q. Dr. Cooper, what in your opinion is the biggest health care challenge Texans face today?

Q. How tough of a hurdle was it to get PE legislation passed in Texas, and has it been effective? What's left for lawmakers to do?

Q. You've talked about the "8-5-3-2-1-0" plan for kids. What does it entail?

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Q. Your overarching message is that lifestyle choices determine the state of your health. So where do you come down on the debate over disease management's effectiveness?

Q. Where do you stand on the health care reform recently passed in Washington? Did it go too far? Go far enough?

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