Generals in the Pentagon are sounding the alarm about the effects of the obesity problem in this country on the readiness of recruits. The operative slogan is that too many potential soldiers are ” too fat to fight.” This is not the kind of marketing tag line that will attract new recruits, nor is it reassurring to Americans who are increasingly conscious of our front line defenders as they take on the bad guys.
The generals, however, are right on target. Using 2008 data from the U.S. Surgeon General, 68% of Americans are overweight and 34% are obese. Worse yet, 30% of children and young adults are overweight and 20% are obese. Those children and young adults are the future G.I. Joes and Janes of the armed forces.
The obesity problem in this country is easy to trace. American now consume 2700 calories a day, 500 more than 40 years ago. Added to this caloric overkill is the habit of too many of our citizens to sit on their behinds and only exercise by walking to the refrigerator for another cold one. The result is that we in this country have the distinction of being the fattest nation in the world. All together now, We’re No. 1!
What to do about this fat epidemic is simple, except in the implementation stage. Americans could eat less, eat healthy and exercise. But these solutions are not easily attained, since big portions are commonplace, eating good food is frowned upon and we still like to be couch potatoes.
On the hopeful side, Michelle Obama is leading a crusade to get this country back in shape, and she is starting with young people. Because she is such a visible voice for sane eating and frequent exercise, maybe, just maybe Americans will get the message. But in the meantime obesity has become not just a health issue that is costing this country billions, but a national security issue with the worrisome slogan ” Too Fat To Fight.”