The politics of obesity in the United States has no lack of irony.
On the one hand, representatives Steve King (R-Iowa) and Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas) have introduced legislation—the No Hungry Kids Act—to repeal USDA nutrition standards for school meals.
Why would they do this? Because they are concerned that students, poor things, won’t get enough to eat.
On the other hand, Mission Readiness, a group of retired military officers, has released Still too Fat to Fight, a report arguing that junk foods and sodas in schools are the reasons why so many young American men cannot qualify for military service.
The report says:
- About 1 in 4 young American adults is now too overweight to join the military.
- Being overweight or obese is the number one medical reason why young adults cannot enlist.
- The U.S. Department of Defense alone spends an estimated $1 billion per year for medical care associated with weight-related health problems.
Why is this happening?
Students in the United States consume almost 400 billion calories from junk food sold at schools each year. If the calories were converted to candy bars this would equal nearly 2 billion bars and weigh more than the aircraft carrier Midway.
The military, says Mission Readiness, is doing what it can but “it cannot win this fight alone. The civilian sector needs to do its part.”
Mission Readiness: start talking to Congress!
Food politics does make strange bedfellows.