Fat Americans Pose a Threat to National Security (AFP)
Increasing rates of obesity among young Americans could undermine the future of the U.S. military, with potential recruits increasingly too fat to serve, two retired generals said on Friday.
“Obesity rates threaten the overall health of America and the future strength of our military,” generals John Shalikashvili and Hugh Shelton, both former chairs of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote in a commentary.
Obesity disqualified more potential recruits for military service than any other medical factor, the two former commanders wrote in the Washington Post.
The two generals urged Congress to adopt legislation that would ensure better nutrition in schools, offering children more vegetables, fruits and whole grains while cutting back on foods with high sugar, sodium and fat content.
“We consider this problem so serious from a national security perspective that we have joined more than 130 other retired generals, admirals and senior military leaders in calling on Congress to pass new child nutrition legislation,” wrote the commanders, part of a non-profit group called “Mission: Readiness.”
The warning came amid growing concern that childhood obesity has turned into an “epidemic,” affecting a staggering one in three American youngsters.
A study released in March warned more American children are becoming extremely obese at a younger age, putting them at risk of dying decades younger than normal-weight children and of suffering old-age illnesses in their 20s.
The U.S. military also faces a problem with troops already serving who are overweight, with some soldiers losing out on promotions because of their failure to meet fitness standards.