There are many things that our nation worries about in protecting our freedoms. But, according to a U.S. military group, there’s a national security threat that many of us are probably not thinking about.
A group of retired military officers has targeted school lunches as a serious threat to U.S. security. School lunches have contributed to making our country’s youth so obese that fewer of them can meet the physical fitness standards of our military. And, that is putting recruitment efforts in serious jeopardy.
“When over a quarter of young adults are too fat to fight, we need to take notice,” says retired Navy Rear Admiral James Barnett Jr., a member of the officers group. He picked out the year 2030 as the year where national security is “absolutely dependent” on the reversal of child obesity rates.
While all of the branches of the military are currently meeting recruiting calls, Barnett is worried that could change if the obesity trend isn’t reversed.
You may be surprised to know that this isn’t the first time that the military has gotten involved in a debate over school lunches. But, last time, the military had the opposite problem. During World War II, military leaders reported that many of their recruits were rejected because of stunted growth and inadequate nutrition. After the war, military leaders pushed Congress to establish the national school lunch program so children would grow up healthier. Oh, the irony.
“This is the future of our Army we are looking at when we talk about these 17- to 24-year-olds,” says U.S. Army Recruiting Command’s Mark Howell. “The sad thing is a lot of them want to join but can’t.”
The current group of military brass is urging Congress to eliminate junk food and high-calorie beverages. And, there is a school lunch bill that is currently awaiting a vote in the Senate. It would establish healthier options for all foods in schools, including in vending machines. The legislation would spend an additional $4.5 billion over 10 years for nutrition programs.
April 22nd, 2010