America’s public schools are selling enough junk food to pose a U.S. security threat, according to a new report released Tuesday by Mission: Readiness, a bipartisan group of senior retired military leaders concerned that the nation’s youth are unfit to serve in the armed forces.
“Childhood obesity is more than just a health issue, it is also a national security issue,” said retired U.S. Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “Being overweight or obese is the number one medical reason why young adults cannot enlist.”
According to the report “Still Too Fat to Fight,” public schools in America sell 400 billion calories of low-nutrient junk food including candy, potato chips, cakes, cookies and sugar-filled drinks each year, contributing to a national childhood obesity epidemic that is impacting the U.S. military.
Department of Defense figures show 25% of Americans between the ages of 17 and 24 have too much excess body fat to enlist. Mission Readiness is calling for updated standards for food sold in school vending machines and cafeterias, where many American children get up to half their calories each day.
“The bottom line is that the armed services must have a sufficient pool of fit young adults to draw from in order to field enough recruits with the excellent qualifications needed to staff a 21st century military,” said retired U.S. Coast Guard Admiral James M. Loy.