According to a new report, approximately 71 percent of millennials aged 17 to 24 — the prime age to enlist in America’s armed forces and fight a foreign war in the Middle East — are non-recruitable, with obesity disqualifying about 31 percent of them.
“Out of all the reasons that we have future soldiers disqualify, the largest – 31% – is obesity,” Maj. Gen. Frank Muth, head of Army Recruiting Command, said last Wednesday.
This is new. In my lifetime. It used to be that overweight teenagers were rare. Not anymore.
I’m certainly not an expert in such matters, although some of the reasons for this erosion in the health and fitness of our nation’s youth seem obvious. Less physical activity. More high-carb junk food. More prepared food and sugar drinks. Fewer home cooked meals. More stress.
As for our armed forces, perhaps we won’t need all that many fit recruits in the future anyway. Perhaps drones, robots, computers and people sitting at terminals will do most of the fighting. Moreover, if we need more than we can get with a voluntary army, we can always reinstitute the draft.
But that won’t make America fit again. That’s something you don’t hear much about these days. You hear about making America “great,” but apparently you don’t have to be fit and healthy to be great.
The first step, in my experience, is to control what comes into the house. My record in such matters is very spotty at best. Too often highly addictive sugar-laced crap finds its way into the shopping cart, destined for our cupboards or frig. I don’t know how that happens, but I do know that, when I’m serious about my fitness and health, it doesn’t happen.
The second step, physical exercise, comes easier. While it’s important for fitness, it isn’t a substitute for controlling what goes into my mouth. You can’t exercise enough to make up for a shitty diet.
We don’t go to the shopping mall often, but when we do I always see overweight kids and wonder why there are so many. And how it happened. And what they’ll be like in another 20 or 40 years.
Perhaps we should have a campaign to make America great again.