Michelle Obama broadened the battle-front when she brought her war against childhood obesity to the largest U. S. Army training center at Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina. Fort Jackson’s official mission is to provide the Army with trained, disciplined, motivated and physically fit warriors who espouse the Army's core values. Obama told Army personnel at the Fort that our recruits are too obese and “it’s affecting our ability to protect our freedom.” The first lady’s too-fat-to-fight remarks at Fort Jackson reflect her passion for waging war against childhood obesity in America. “Let’s Move” is the battle-cry of her project that targets America’s obese children who rank number one in the world in fattiness. She asked the military officials to support the program to combat America’s obesity epidemic and told them, “You have to get the whole country behind this.” Ms. Obama’s purpose for coming to Fort Jackson was to determine how the military is dealing with the problem and how solutions might be transferred to the general population. 40 percent of the 129,000 recruits each year are overweight, and only one-quarter of would-be recruits between the ages of 18 and 24 could even get into the military, mostly due to their weight.
To cope with the increasingly corpulent corps the Army has installed a “Go for Green” program, featuring things like switching from soft drinks to a hydration station--whatever that is--and posting nutritional information about cafeteria choices. Kim Milano is the wife of the Fort’s commanding officer and a nutritionist who works to improve the soldiers’ diets and exercise programs. Milan said “A lot of this could be transferred to schools across the country,” as she and Obama visited one of the soldiers’ dining facilities. Lt. General. Mark Hertling, who is the Army’s deputy commander for recruits, said the problem begins when the recruits are kids and spend too much time watching television, using computers and eating fast food. He said today’s youth might be smarter, but they don’t engage in enough physical activities, like playing outside. “ It’s a generational thing,” he said, “and it’s going to be hard to change a whole generation.”
A spoofy solution might be for the First Lady to host a kids’ “Biggest Loser” show with General Hertling and Kim Milano featured as trainers for the fat children. It would get great exposure for her pet project of ending children’s and soldiers’ obesity and could contribute to her husband’s efforts to win a second term. General Hertling would be training the fat kids into shape so they won’t be too fat to fight when they grow up (rather than blow up) and will have the ability to fight to protect our freedom from lean and hungry Al-Qaeda and Taliban warriors.
But Americans have a bigger threat from the fast food industry than the Taliban. According to an in depth report on CBS Evening News in November, the fast food killers spent $30 billion dollars last year on advertising which claimed their products are healthy, with mouth watering visuals of giant Big Macs and Whoppers. Two-thirds of Americans, or more than 190 million, are overweight or obese. Obesity-related diseases are a $147 billion dollar medical burden every year and childhood obesity has tripled over the past thirty years. Nutrition experts predict this could be the first generation in America in over 150 years to have a shortened life expectancy.
The US obesity rate is the highest of any country, while nearly 2 billion people in the world are undernourished according to the UK Government Office for Science.
We not only lead the world in consuming fast foods and obesity rates, we also have a bloated military budget. US defense spending surpasses the next closest country by more than eight times. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute reports that the U.S. military budget accounts for 43 percent of the world’s total military spending. US taxpayers pay for weapons supplied to countries such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan, Iraq, Israel, and South Korea among others. Our defense budget is $720 billion, including the Pentagon base budget, nuclear weapons activities and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Too fat to fight. Bloated bodies—bloated budget. Shape up our soldiers and our children. Reduce the size of the military. “Let’s Move.”