Mission: Readiness, the organization of former high-ranking military officials concerned about obesity and other health problems in military recruits and personnel, has just released “Retreat Is Not An Option: Healthier School Meals Protect our Children and our Country.”
- Currently, 12 percent of active duty service members are obese based on height and weight—an increase of 61 percent since 2002—which is resulting in serious problems with injuries and dismissals.
- The obese service members in the brigade in Afghanistan were 40 percent more likely to experience an injury than those with a healthy weight, and slower runners were 49 percent more likely to be injured.
- The military spends more than $1.5 billion annually treating obesity-related health conditions and replacing those discharged because they are unfit.
- 70% of young Americans are ineligible for military service because of overweight, lack of education, or criminal records. The ineligibility percentages range from a low of 62% in Hawaii to 78% in Mississippi.
The report concludes:
We understand that some schools need additional support to help meet the updated standards, such as better equipment and more staff training, and that support should be provided. At the same time, moving forward with implementation of the standards for all schools is paramount. Students depend on schools to reinforce efforts by parents and communities to put them on track for healthy and productive lives. Healthy school meals and snacks are a vital part of that effort. When it comes to children’s health and our national security, retreat is not an option.
This is a direct criticism of the School Nutrition Association (SNA), which has called for such a retreat. In response, SNA said:
Recent reports by Mission: Readiness and other organizations have mischaracterized both the impact of the new standards on school meal programs and the scope of the regulatory relief requested by School Nutrition Association and other groups. SNA’s Myth vs Fact sheet on the new standards addresses how the new rules have contributed to a decline in student lunch participation, increases in food waste and financial instability in many school meal programs.
USDA’s data, however, argue otherwise.
The SNA, which receives nearly half its income from companies that sell food products to schools, now finds itself in opposition to the military as well as to USDA and consumer school food advocates.
If anything needs to retreat, it’s SNA.
As for why the military is concerned, take a look at this photo taken at the Las Vegas airport, sent to me yesterday by Andy Bellatti.