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Too fat to fight: Is childhood obesity a national security threat?

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“This is not a spectator sport. It’s a team sport, a contact sport and we need parents on the team, but the reality is that kids are getting 40-50% of their calories in school daily,” Charles E. Milam, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy said at the organization’s release of the report in Washington today.

 “We are working with the National PTA because removing the junk food from our schools should be part of comprehensive action, involving parents, school and communities, to help children make healthy food choices,” said David Carrier, spokesman for Mission Readiness.

This group takes the approach that lack of exercise is not the primary influence in childhood obesity, and the report cites a Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Report:  “It also turns out that lack of exercise is not the primary culprit. Although children and adults exercise less than they should, exercise patterns have not changed dramatically in recent decades while obesity patterns have. What has changed in recent years is the availability and lower prices of food products that are high in sugar, fat, and salt and the increased pressures on families’ time. Over the past two decades, Americans have increased their daily calorie intake by 250 to 300 calories, with approximately half of the additional calories coming from sugar-sweetened drinks.”

Mission: Readiness spent the past two years concentrating on the issue of how childhood obesity is affecting the military in its state of readiness to fight and the cost of medical insurance and preparedness initiatives that have had to be expanded to fit the needs of less fit military recruits.

According to today’s report by Mission Readiness: “Every year, the military discharges over 1,200 first-term enlistees before their contracts are up because of weight problems; the military must then recruit and train their replacements at a cost of $50,000 for each man or woman, thus spending more than $60 million a year.”

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