The obesity epidemic is raging forward like a juggernaut without braces. Something must be done to slow and stop this behemoth. There is a growing childhood obesity epidemic that is paralleling the adult obesity epidemic. Not only do dietary habits need to change, but how we view food on a fundamental level needs to change. Food is for survival, and if we gain some satisfaction from it then that is good. Over indulgence and gluttony are killers and are a major threat to the health of our nation. To add to the overwhelming health burden that obesity with have on our nation, obesity also risks our economic and national security as well.
Mission: Readiness, a nonprofit nonpartisan national security organization of senior retired military leaders, has released a new report titled “Still Too Fat To Fight”. The report has some alarming results that point to a growing problem that childhood obesity is causing for our national security. Children in the United States consume almost 400 billion calories form junk food at school each year. Seventeen percent of girls and twenty percent of boys aged 12 to 19 years are suffering from childhood obesity. The problem in adults is even worse, one-third of American adults are obese and two-third can be considered overweight. For American males, almost three out of four are either overweight or obese. Among children, one in four cannot join the military due to being overweight or obese. The military is currently spending over one billion dollars per year on weight related health issues and diseases.
The authors of the report point to America’s school lunch programs as one of the major contributors to the growing childhood obesity epidemic. In has been estimated that school junk food calories equal more that the weight of the aircraft carrier Midway. The report calls for eliminating junk food from schools as an essential part of slowing the childhood obesity epidemic.
The authors wrote, “As retired admirals and generals, we know that America is not powerless in the face of this insidious epidemic. We do not have to keep surrendering ever more of our young people to obesity. We do not need to keep jeopardizing our national security because three quarters of our young people cannot serve in the military, a quarter of them because they are overweight”.
The authors also wrote, “Getting the junk food out of our schools is the obvious next step in our efforts to address the childhood obesity crisis. Congress should continue to provide bipartisan support for the process they approved to ensure that our children have access to more nutritious, lower-fat, lower-calorie food at school that includes fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lower-fat dairy options. These foods can help our children become strong and healthy. As a nation, we acted decisively to improve our children’s nutrition after World War II and we should do so again”.
In New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed eliminating junk food from the vending machines of public city hospitals. In addition, some of the private hospitals will also do the same. This is a trend that should be extended into the schools of our children. We should set an example that starts at a young age. Teaching healthy food habits from a young age is important for the health of our children. It is also important for the economy of our country, and it is equally important for our national security.
“Still Too Fat To Fight” Mission: Readiness, Military Leaders for Kids