Obesity and the Future of the Military: Military Connection

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By Debbie Gregory.

The nation’s obesity epidemic is causing significant recruiting problems for the military, with one in three young adults nationwide too fat to enlist. But in Texas, that statistic is even more appalling.

Army Brigadier General Joe E. Ramirez Jr.(Ret.), the Commandant of Texas A&M University’s Corps of Cadets, said that in Texas, 73 percent of young adults can’t serve due to the shape they’re in. That’s nearly 3 out of 4!

“It’s been a problem for a while,” he said. “Our country is getting bigger and that concerns a lot of us.”

Ramirez has embarked on a statewide speaking tour to discuss obesity’s impact on the military, and ways to improve children’s health in the state. He relied on talking points from a report entitled “Too Fat, Frail and Out-of-Breath to Fight.”

The report was published by Mission: Readiness. The nonprofit, non-partisan group is promoting a healthier lifestyle for children across the nation as a way to combat the problem. Mission Readiness’ 120+ retired Generals, Admirals, and other senior leaders of the United States Armed Forces found that otherwise excellent recruit prospects, some of them with generations of sterling military service in their family history, are being turned away because they are just too overweight.

The report urges city and school district officials to build physical activity into communities; build physical activity into the school day; and continue with healthier school meals. This means increasing the number of children who walk and bike to and from school by improving sidewalks, bicycle paths, intersections, traffic signals and other infrastructure. It also means making sure that there are opportunities to get moving during the school day, all fueled by healthy, nutritious school meals.

“This affects the ability of qualified men and women to defend the country,” Ramirez said. “Being able to rely on our youth is critical.”

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.