Michelle Obama: Childhood Obesity Is A “National Security Threat”

And McDonald’s is America’s own fast food al Qaeda, I guess.

From Politico:

First Lady Michelle Obama plans to warn in remarks Monday that the nation is seeing “a groundswell of support” for curbing childhood obesity, and she is unveiling new ammunition from current and retired military leaders.

“[M]ilitary leaders … tell us that when more than one in four young people are unqualified for military service because of their weight,” the first lady says in prepared remarks, “childhood obesity isn’t just a public health threat, it’s not just an economic threat, it’s a national security threat as well.”

That statistic about 1 in 4 children being unqualified for military service because of their weight is a little misleading. It’s not actually coming from the military itself but rather a group of 100 retired Generals and Admirals who started a group called Mission:Readiness which has been busy lobbying for Michelle Obama’s legislation. Here is their endorsement, in fact, from their “Too Fat To Fight” report:

Allow the U.S. Department of Agriculture to adopt new nutrition standards that will get high-calorie, low-nutrition foods out of our schools;

Support the administration’s proposal for adequate funding to improve the quality of food available in schools and increase the number of children who have access to quality meals at school;

Deploy proven school-based programs that enlist parents in helping children adopt life-long changes in their eating and exercise habits.

So what are the actual numbers for Americans disqualified from service due to obesity? In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Clifford L. Stanley noted that obesity is the biggest reason for medical disqualifications but notes that it is only a part of those qualifications which, overall, eliminate 35% of prospective troops:

Medical disqualification, with obesity a large contributing factor, removes 35 percent, drug or alcohol abuse removes 18 percent, and another 23 percent do not meet our standards for reasons including criminal misbehavior, low aptitude scores or having more dependents than can reliably be accommodated in their early career. Other factors impacting recruiting efforts include only 75 percent of our young people graduate with a high school diploma; high numbers of youth going to college directly from high school; and the continuing concerns about overseas contingency operations with its associated high operations tempo.

According to the “Too Fat To Fight” report above, 42.5 percent of 18-to-24-year-olds are obese which, doing the math, would mean that about 15% of recruits aren’t qualified because they’re too fat.

That’s lower than the number who are disqualified because of drug and alcohol use and much lower than the number who are disqualified because they’re criminals. Also, it’s worth noting that despite two wars on-going in Iraq and Afghanistan, the military is having no problems meeting its recruitment and retention goals.

So do we have an obesity crisis? Not really. But the Obamas need a crisis to justify their nanny statism, so they’ll carry on as if there was one anyway.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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