Is obesity America's greatest threat to national security? As we celebrate Veterans Day we should pause and think about how obesity is affecting our military.
A group of retired military leaders say that 27% of 17 to 24-year-olds in the United States are too fat to serve in the military. That's 9 million potential recruits. Read their report "Too Fat to Fight," (http://www.missionreadiness.org/wp-content/uploads/MR_Too_Fat_to_Fight-11.pdf).
"Being overweight or obese turns out to be the leading medical reason why applicants fail to qualify for military service," the group says in the report. "Today, otherwise excellent recruit prospects, some of them with generations of sterling military service in their family history, are being turned away because they are just too overweight." Between 1995 and 2008, the military had 140,000 individuals who showed up at recruiting centers but failed their entrance physicals because of their weight.
Teaching healthy habits starts in childhood and our schools should play a major role. Students that would be eligible to enter the military in 2025 are in school right now we can provide the healthy environment needed to create a healthy individual by ensuring that we are teaching quality physical education to all students.