Nearly 40 percent of American children are obese. In May, the World Health Organization reported at least 2.8 million people die each year due to obesity. With obesity rates swiftly increasing, retired military leaders are now raising red flags about childhood obesity. Many believe obesity is not only a health issue, but also a national security issue.
The advocacy group Mission: Readiness is a nonpartisan security organization of 300 senior retired military leaders. It operates under the supervision of the nonprofit Council for a Strong America. The group's mission is to inform the public on a new angle of the pandemic.
According to the advocacy group, childhood obesity is negatively impacting the military.
Nearly 75 percent of young people between the ages of 17-to-24-years-old cannot enlist due to being overweight or obese. In addition, the U.S. Department of Defense spends nearly $1 billion each year on medical care associated to obesity issues for active duty members, their dependents and veterans.
This is not the first time military leaders raise concerns in regards to children's health and fitness. In 1946, military leaders were influential in convincing Congress to pass the original National School Lunch Act as a means to improve nutrition in American schools.
Today, members of Mission: Readiness is purposing new solutions. Members propose having healthier food in cafeterias and in vending machines to combat obesity. Additionally, the report also suggests educating policymakers about interventions that will prepare young people for a healthier lifestyle by:
- Expanding high-quality early childhood education programs;
- Increasing access to healthier food at school;
- Improving the quality and quantity of Physical Education.
- Calling Congress to revise the Child Nutrition Act
- Asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to adopt new nutrition standards to rid high-calorie foods
Retired Lt. Gen. Norman Seip, spokesman for Mission: Readiness, wants to clarify that the advocacy group is not blaming schools, but are acknowledging schools as a part of the solution.