Obesity threatens national security
By Johnnie E. Wilson
6:29 p.m. Monday, February 8, 2010
When first lady Michelle Obama launches her campaign to reduce child obesity today, many Americans will be cheering her on — including parents, teachers, doctors, business leaders ... and retired generals and admirals such as me. Generals and admirals?
Yes, child obesity has become so serious in this country that military leaders are viewing the epidemic as a potential threat to our national security.
Obesity, it turns out, is the No. 1 reason why applicants fail to qualify for military service, and it is posing serious health problems within the services. The issue is causing heartbreak among some military families that have always had a son or daughter in the service. Today, otherwise excellent recruit prospects, with generations of military service in their family history, are being turned away because they are just too heavy.
A recent report by Mission: Readiness, an organization made up of retired admirals and generals, found that an alarming 75 percent of all young people aged 17 to 24 are unable to join the military. Many young adults do not qualify because they failed to finish high school or have criminal records, but the No. 1 reason, our report found, is obesity.