Recent commanders of the Kentucky National Guard say the country could be at risk because America’s youth is too fat to fight, and they urge Congress to take action. A study recently showed more than half of adults 18 to 24 in Kentucky are overweight or obese — the highest share of any state. Nationally, one in four young adults are too overweight to enlist.
“What can we do to combat child obesity and help expand the pool of young adults qualified for military service?” former Adjutant Gens. Donald Storm (right), Michael Davidson and D. Allen Youngman write in an op-ed piece for Kentucky newspapers. “School is a good place to start. Many children consume nearly half of their daily calories at school, and more than half of kids eat at least one meal served in school every day.”
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which updates school nutrition standards for the first time in decades and provides more funding for each meal served in school cafeterias, is a step in the right direction, they say, “but more is needed to prevent our childhood obesity crisis from becoming a national security crisis.”
Updating school equipment and personnel seem necessary. A recent survey of 13 southeastern Kentucky school districts found that nine use deep fryers and only five use salad bars. The survey also found that the vast majority of districts do not have the funds necessary to update or repair equipment that will be needed to comply with the new nutrition standards. Also, 11 of the 13 school food-service directors said their cafeteria workers need more training in order to be prepared for new standards.
“We are urging members of Congress to help schools meet the standards of the new child-nutrition law and provide additional support for kitchen equipment and training,” they write. “These funds will help ensure that all of our children can lead healthy lives and that those who wish to serve their country are fit enough to do so.” (Read more)