The effects of America’s expanding waistlines are spreading to all corners and facets of the country, including the military. In trying to attract new young recruits, the military is challenged by teenagers who are too overweight to be enlisted.
According to USA Today, Mission:Readiness, a non-profit group of retired military personnel, says that about 75 percent of today’s young adults wouldn’t be able to join the military if they wanted to because they are either too heavy, didn’t graduate from high school, have criminal records or have other health problems.
In an effort to maintain the nation’s security, Mission:Readiness is calling on schools to ramp up the nutrition of their school lunch programs now so that risk to the nation’s level of preparedness can be prevented down the road.
“Our national security in 2030 is absolutely dependent on reversing the alarming rates of childhood obesity,” says retired rear admiral Jamie Barnett, a member of Mission:Readiness.
The military’s current challenge of dealing with the childhood obesity problem is not that much different than what Jamie Oliver’s mission is in his newest American reality series, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. Oliver is single-handedly taking on the fattest city in the country to trim it down and teach them the merits of eating healthy, cooking at home and using fresh ingredients. The school cafeteria has often been the scene of heat and fury as Oliver struggles with the lunch ladies and the freezer vaults packed with frozen fried cheese sticks and french fries to try a different and healthier approach to feeding young mouths at lunchtime.
According to federal statistics, one-third of American children are either overweight or obese. Kids who are heavier not just have a higher risk for diabetes, asthma and high cholesterol levels, but they also have a 70 percent chance of becoming overweight or obese adults.
Public health initiatives aimed at teaching children about healthy eating habits and regular physical activity are therefore the onus of everyone as its effects are as near-reaching as the local health clinic to as far-reaching as the shores of The Persian Gulf.