Originally published May 10 2015
America to be brought down by junk food? 69% of youth too fat to fight for the military
by Daniel Barker
(NaturalNews) Great nations have often been subject to being brought down by an "enemy within." In the case of America, that enemy might well prove to be be obesity. If this generation is too fat to fight, who will be there to defend our country in its time of need?
That's the question posed by a group of retired military personnel who have formed an organization called "Mission: Readiness." Made up of "more than 500 retired generals, admirals and other senior retired military leaders," Mission: Readiness is focused on investing in the youth of America to ensure that our nation remains secure and prosperous in the 21st century.
The Minnesota branch of the organization has prepared a report titled "Too Fat, Frail, and Out-of-Breath to Fight." It contains a critical look at the state of health among young people in America, particularly those living in Minnesota.
According to the group, 69 percent of Minnesota's young people are unfit to serve in the military, and obesity is one of the major reasons why. Many of the health issues affecting eligibility for military service, such as asthma - which disqualifies individuals from enlisting unless they have a waiver - are directly or indirectly related to a lack of exercise and poor diet.
The group believes that the military can play a role in helping to solve some of the country's problems, as it has in the past. One historical example of how this can work was the introduction of the school lunch program during WWII - a program championed by General Lewis Hershey and designed to overcome the malnutrition problem of the time, which was keeping many from serving in the war effort.
Other examples of the military's positive influence in solving domestic problems include mathematics programs instituted in schools during the Cold War as part of the effort to keep up with the Russians after their successful launching of the Sputnik satellite and former general President Eisenhower's expansion of the highway system to facilitate the transport of troops and military supplies.
Now, according to the members of Mission: Readiness, the challenge is to tackle the problems of obesity and other health issues facing American youth that make them unfit to serve.
The way to accomplish this is by combining several strategies. First, the organization recommends "...the creation of new transportation systems that prioritize sidewalks, trails, separate bike lanes and other longer-term built environment changes to substantially increase walking or biking to and from school and work."
Second, the report urges schools to make sure that children get at least one hour of exercise daily. Less than 25 percent of Minnesota high school students currently get the recommended daily exercise; in the average week, 40 percent of the state's ninth graders get no physical education (PE) at all.
The third recommendation by the organization involves making sure that students continue receiving healthy meals at school. Currently, 94 percent of Minnesota schools are meeting nutritional standards. The report notes that children consume as much as half of their daily calories at school, which means that ensuring school lunches are nutritional is a key factor in promoting health among young people.
The members of Mission: Readiness Minnesota have been encouraged by successes elsewhere. A Minnesota school district has reduced obesity by 30 percent by instituting changes such as including daily physical activity in schools. Efforts to reduce air pollution in Los Angeles have led to dramatic improvements in students with underdeveloped lungs. In other parts of the U.S. and Europe, "ongoing commitments to 'active transportation' efforts have led to many thousands more children and adults walking or biking to and from school and work each day."
If we don't invest in the health of our children, we not only do them a grave disservice regarding the quality and length of their lives, but we also face the grim prospect of not being able to defend our nation. It is hoped that Mission: Readiness and other programs continue in successfully fighting obesity and promoting good health among our young people.
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