First of all I should say that it’s just fine with me if the military is finding trouble filling its bloated ranks. Some downsizing would do it good.
But an organization called Mission Readiness, comprised of over 100 retired Generals and Admirals, has recently released a report that summarizes the shockingly poor state of health of young folks in America.
A full 75% of Americans between the ages of 17 and 24 are unable to join the military, because they failed to graduate from high school, have criminal records, or are physically unfit. The leading reason they are physically unfit, is that they are too fat. At least 9 million Americans between the ages of 17 and 24 are too fat to serve in the military–a full 27% of all young adults (using the stricter CDC definition of obesity a shocking 42% of young American adults are overweight). And if they’re too fat to be in the military, then they’re too fat to be living healthy lives.
The rate of increase of childhood obesity and diabetes over the past 10 years or so is just incredible. Ten years ago more than 40% of young adults were overweight in only one state, Kentucky. Now that is true in 39 states! Incredibly, overweight young people in this country would have to lose a total of 390 million pounds to reach normal weights, an average of 34 pounds per person.
Childhood obesity rates have tripled over the past 30 years (while adult obesity rates have doubled). Over the last 20 years Americans have increased their daily calorie intact by 250-300 calories, with half of that coming from sweetened drinks.
The annual medical expenditures attibutable to obesity are over $75 billion. The American Public Health Association projects that the increased costs of medical care in this country attributable to obesity will exceed $344 billion and account for a full 21% of all health care spending.
The military sees this as a national security issue. But it is much deeper than that. Juvenile diabetes, which was once rare, is now common. Our young people are on track to be the first generation in our history that will not outlive the prior generation. We are killing them with junk food.
You can view the entire report at http://www.missionreadiness.org