Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Too Fat to Fight

Echoing the sentiments of First Lady Michelle Obama during her Let's Move campaign kick-off in February, a group of retired military generals and officers who form the group Mission Readiness are speaking out and saying that an alarming number of young people between the ages of 17 -24 are simply too fat to fight. The group cites that 9 million young adults, which is 27% of eligible enlistees, are medically ineligible for military duty because of their weight and this has become the leading medical reason why they are rejected. If these numbers do not change, this could ultimately become a threat to our National Security. The main culprit cited: School Lunches. The study provided by Mission Readiness highlighted research that indicates that students get up to 40% of their daily caloric intake at school. The study also showed that that 80% of individuals who were overweight at 10 to 15 years old were obese by 25.

This is not the first time that the military has worked with the Federal Government to change the quality of school lunches in order to improve the physical quality of future enlistees. Ironically during World War II, the military worked closely with the government to improve the nutritional value of school lunches to beef up potential enlistees as many of them proved to be severely undernourished and underweight. After the war, military leaders pushed Congress to establish the national school lunch program so that children would grow up healthier. The program was established in 1946, "as a measure of national security." Today however, though the request is similar, the current status is quite the opposite. Instead of beefing up candidates, we need to slim them down. Today’s school lunches are high in sodium, starches and sugar and in many cases are not balanced resulting in overweight young adults. Mission Readiness is urging Congress to eliminate junk food and high-calorie beverages from schools, put more money into the school lunch program and develop new strategies that help children develop healthier habits. The school lunch bill, currently awaiting a Senate vote, would establish healthier options for all foods in schools, including vending machine items.

For more information on Mission: Readiness - Military Leaders for Kids visit:

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