Family Matters: Tackling Obesity, for Security’s Sake

American Forces Press Service
Jul. 23, 2012

It’s not often there is a national call to action over a matter of national security, but that is what’s happening over America’s obesity problem. Luckily, there is no shortage of resources for all of us to do our part in addressing it.

Concerns about the quick rise in obesity – some call it an epidemic -- and its potential to harm military readiness are not new. Ever since 100 retired generals and admirals formed the nonprofit organization “Mission: Readiness” and released its landmark 2010 report “Too Fat to Fight” to convince Congress to mandate healthy school lunches, federal officials, at least, have known of the military imperative to reverse the fat trend. The report included the services’ assessment that 75 percent of the nation’s 17- to 24-year-olds do not qualify for military service – mostly due to obesity.

Those concerns were reiterated last month when the Bipartisan Policy Center released its report, “Lots to Lose,” which shows alarming trends not only in recruiting, but also in retention due to overweight problems. The report notes that nutrition concerns for service members and recruits factored into President Harry S. Truman’s decision to mandate the federal school lunch program. The focus then, however, was vitamin deficiencies.