The military war on obesity

Now here’s a war I can support:

The Pentagon spends more than $1 billion a year on medical care relating to weight and obesity. And America’s growing weight problem means finding new troops fit enough to fight has never been more challenging.

Army recruiter Sgt. Laura Peterson says America’s growing waistline is shrinking the pool of those qualified to serve.

“I’ve definitely seen the problem getting worse,” she said. “The population has gotten bigger. They don’t move as much.”

Among 17- to 24-year-olds, 27 percent are too overweight for military service. Over the past 50 years, the number of women considered ineligible due to weight has tripled, and the number of men has doubled, officials say.

Retired Rear Adm. James Barnett has said of obesity, “(It’s) not just a major health issue for our nation; it’s also become a national security issue.”

I was tickled pink when I first heard this story even though it was just a small piece I had caught in passing. Now that I’ve had the chance to read a full article, I’m even happier because of the big name they have involved:

And these days, it’s a battle the military is taking up. Teaming up with more than 300 of his colleagues, Barnett is fighting the war against obesity with a powerful ally: first lady Michelle Obama.

In February, Mrs. Obama announced sweeping changes to improve nutrition standards for 1.5 million troops and 1,100 military dining facilities across the country.

The Army now requires nutrition education as part of its basic training.

Barnett said, “When you talk about nutrition, you talk about healthy bodies, but you also talk about healthy minds. Nutrition affects strong bodies, strong minds. We need both.”

Military officials monitor soldiers to make sure they’re fit enough to fight on a consistent basis. Recruits who can’t keep the weight off may be kicked out of service.

As I’ve said in the past, I don’t inherently support the troops. I just can’t make myself become another mindless, ‘patriotic’ goof who falls for such obvious propaganda. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have a certain respect for service members. I recognize that there are many parts of the military that are physically demanding – I respect that. (In fact, I’ve always been interested in the idea of doing basic training merely for the sake of doing it.) I like and value fitness, so when presented with something which has always been associated with high physical rigor, how can I not appreciate it? Well, as it turns out, it’s pretty easy to not appreciate a mass of people who have became masses in their own, individual rights. A billion dollars a year? Come on.

Now excuse me while I actually leave for the gym right now.

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