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Obesity epidemic hindering military recruitment
09.27.2012Many studies have shown how the global obesity epidemic is increasing national healthcare costs and and leading to illnesses that require emergency medicine such as heart attack and stroke.
Now, more than 300 ranking officials in the armed forces have signed a report saying that widespread obesity could make it harder for certain people to defend our country.
The study, titled Too Fat to Fight and written by a group of retired military officers called Mission: Readiness, states that approximately 9 million Americans between the ages of 17 and 24 years old are too overweight to serve in the armed forces. If obesity rates continue to rise, the authors report that it could compromise the effectiveness of the military in the long-term. The organization calls on Congress to let the U.S. Department of Agriculture to apply new standards to remove unhealthy foods from public schools.
"Child obesity has become so serious in this country that military leaders are viewing this epidemic as a potential threat to our national security," said retired U.S. Army General Johnnie E. Wilson. "We need America’s service members to be in excellent physical condition because they have such an important job to do. Rigorous service standards are critical if we are to maintain the fighting readiness of our military."
Later in the report, the authors add that the proportion of potential servicemen who had to be turned away by recruiters due to obesity skyrocketed by almost 70 percent during the last 17 years.
Former military leaders push for new standards for nutrition in schools
According to the Christian Science Monitor, the veterans who penned Too Fat to Fight aren't playing the blame game with with schools. Instead, they're working alongside the Parent Teacher Association to implement their healthcare wellness program, which involves keeping junk food and sugary drinks away from children and teenagers during their school days.
"This is not a spectator sport. It’s a team sport, a contact sport," said Charles E. Milam, acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy, at a press conference attended by the Monitor. "We need parents on the team, but the reality is that kids are getting 40 to 50 percent of their calories in school daily."
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