Keeping kids healthy so that they can kill for us

Continuing our conversation on the childhood obesity epidemic, I wanted to pass along this article on how, on top of everything else, it might be a security threat. Here’s a clip from the Huffington Post:

School lunches have been called many things, but a group of retired military officers is giving them a new label: national security threat.

That’s not a reference to the mystery meat served up in the cafeteria line either. The retired officers are saying that school lunches have helped make the nation’s young people so fat that fewer of them can meet the military’s physical fitness standards, and recruitment is in jeopardy.

A new report being released Tuesday says more than 9 million young adults, or 27 percent of all Americans ages 17 to 24, are too overweight to join the military. Now, the officers are advocating for passage of a wide-ranging nutrition bill that aims to make the nation’s school lunches healthier…

It never would have occurred to me. I never would have have thought that, in the end, it might be the fact that we need young people to kill for us, that gets us as a nation to take childhood obesity seriously. The fact that this generation coming up is likely to have shorter lifespans than their parents wasn’t enough to change things. And neither was the fact that they’ll likely cost us a fortune, due to their poor health. But, maybe this is the argument that’ll get people to take it seriously – the fact that we need healthy kids to cary guns, kill for us, and keep the oil flowing. How incredible would it be if that’s what finally gets fresh vegetables into our schools?

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  1. Posted April 20, 2010 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    I recently read that the origin of the free and reduced price lunch program came from the same place–only from the point of thin-ness–that kids would not be healthy enough to qualify for military service because they were malnourished. Flip side of the coin.

  2. Posted April 20, 2010 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    Truth be told, the only reason I feed my daughter is because some day I might need her to kill for me.

  3. qwa
    Posted April 20, 2010 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

    My cousin’s kid was kicked out of military school because he was above the weight limit. He was really near finishing, but was kicked out before he could…

  4. Peter Larson
    Posted April 21, 2010 at 4:07 am | Permalink

    All joking aside, they have a serious point. Being that we have a volunteer military, enlistees disproportionately come from poor backgrounds. It also happens that overweight and obesity disproportionately affect the poor, seriously cutting down the number of people able to sign up. This not only will affect the military (who do much more than kill for oil) but also the National Guard.

    Think, though, if police instituted the same standards, we would have any more policemen.

  5. Knox
    Posted April 21, 2010 at 5:58 am | Permalink

    I like the idea of forcing the poor to be healthy so that they can protect the way of life that the rest of us have become accustomed to.

  6. Edward
    Posted April 21, 2010 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    Is the military a sponsor of Jamie Oliver’s show?

  7. Mr. X
    Posted April 21, 2010 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    Notes from Amanda Edmonds, who spoke at City Hall last night:

    National trends/data:
    1) The current generation of kids– tragically– has a life expectancy for the first lower than previous generations, and that obesity and diet-related disease is a factor in this.
    2) Numerous studies are finding that the closer you live to a fast food establishment, the higher your chances of being obese.
    3) Studies are also finding that the closer you live to a grocery store, the lower your chances of being obese, and that you are more likely to consume more fruits & veggies.
    4) It is widely known that people with lower incomes have more difficulty in accessing healthy foods– cost & transportation (access) being two of the factors

    In Ypsi/Ypsi area, according to the Washtenaw County Health Improvement Plan, Census, and work done through the Ypsi Healthy Food Access Initiative (something we were a part of in 2006-7)
    1) 19% of Ypsi residents have food stamps
    2) About 10% of Ypsi area residents have diabetes
    3) Only 12% of Ypsi area residents eat recommended number of servings of fruits & veggies
    4) 53% of Ypsi area kids are overweight
    5) City of *Ypsi residents spend an average $4,322 per household on food annually,
    or a total of almost $38 million. That includes $4 million on fruits and vegetables.

  8. Phil Newsci
    Posted April 21, 2010 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    Can’t we just create technology that will allow fat kids to fight? This is America, damnit!

  9. dragon
    Posted April 21, 2010 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

    Our military suppliers can just start shopping at the Sears husky section for all their codpiece needs.

  10. Posted April 22, 2010 at 2:38 am | Permalink

    I like to think that my wife and her shipmates joined the Navy to defend and protect the United States and its allies. In any case, I was surprised to see this story but it sounds like a nice opportunity for coalition-building. If you agree with the goal at hand — reducing obesity — it doesn’t really help to start by insulting the people who might work with you to achieve it.

  11. Posted April 22, 2010 at 5:58 am | Permalink

    OK, so maybe I was being a bit provocative when I implied that the military existed to safeguard our oil supplies. I realize, of course, that there are other reasons we maintain a military. And I value the service of folks serving in uniform…

  12. Peter Larson
    Posted April 22, 2010 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    Although Mark is backtracking here and I know him to have somewhat of a caustic sense of humor, I am often disappointed at the left’s propensity to disparage the military as a bunch of yahoo killers who only exist to realize the will of the evil empire. I think that us felafel eating college educated types have sadly little contact with people in the military, let alone the sections of society they come from. Perhaps if there was a little more overlap, there might be a more realistic level of understanding.

    Sometimes I can’t figure out who’s dumber: liberal hating, wacko fleabagger gun-nuts who cling to class sterotypes and conspiracy theories, or redneck hating, educated leftist bozos who cling to class stereotypes and conspiracy theories.

  13. Kim
    Posted April 22, 2010 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Why not go the other way, and seek to make them even larger? We could then put a line of couches between us and Mexico, and place these living blobs on them. It would be a huge, living wall. Like a coral reef, only of blubber.

  14. Stan
    Posted April 22, 2010 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    Before you take the military all the way off the hook, check out this chapter from the documentary series WAR.

One Trackback

  1. […] guess I was naive, but I really thought that all of this would end once it was determined that American kids were too fat to be efficient killing machines for the military industrial complex. I really thought that our love for war would trump our love for privatization, and that defense […]

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