SPECIAL REPORT: Too fat to fight - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

SPECIAL REPORT: Too fat to fight

(Source: Too fat to fight report) (Source: Too fat to fight report)
COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

The United States military stands ready to protect theAmerican people against threats both domestic and abroad.  Butretired leaders say that job is becoming increasingly difficult due torecruitment challenges. 

It's not that there aren't enough volunteers. The problem, according to one advocate group, is that too many young peoplecan't serve because they're obese.

"One year we missed our recruiting objective by over 7,000.And we said, ‘Oh Gosh, the recruiter's not working hard enough.'  Well come to find out, they were working hard enough.  They had enoughyoung volunteers coming to the door wanting to volunteer, but they failed toqualify," said Retired General Jack Wheeler, Mission Readiness

Mission Readiness is a coalition of retired generals,admirals and civilian military leaders who are calling attention to the fitnesslevel of our nation's youth which they say is rapidly deteriorating.  Intheir research publication, Too Fat to Fight, the mission details what it callsan alarming statistic.

Over a ten year period, the number of obese youngpeople increased by 10% or more in nearly every state.  A fewstates, including Alabama, even crossed the 50% mark total. Expertssay this is due to an increasing reliance on technology and a societal shifttowards non-physical activity.

"They're not active with other family members, they're notactive with other students, they're not active with their peers.  They'rejust at home, alone, playing video games and watching T.V," said Kim Bishop, Professional Counselor. 

"When we look at what our intake is of our kids, and thelack of exercise they are getting, that is where we are today as compared totwenty or thirty years ago when kids were eating a lot more fresh vegetables,fresh fruits, and getting a lot more exercise." said Gen. Jack Wheeler.

Opponents of child obesity applaud efforts like the USDA'sHealthy Hunger Free Kids Act which requires schools to serve healthier lunchesto its students.  We visited high schools in both in both Harris Countyand Muscogee County to see how those rules are being implemented.  On thewhole, students are giving the new menus high marks.

But there are some students who say the diet restrictions gotoo far.  In the pursuit of promoting healthy eating and bringing downcalorie counts, the new standards might inadvertently punish the minority ofstudents who get a high level of exercise.

"The soccer team, last year, we had a group of girls who werenot well off financially and after practice they would complain a lot about thefood they had at lunch wasn't enough – not that it didn't taste good – it'sthat it didn't satisfy them completely, or it did but it didn't last longenough," said Margaret Kelley, Hardaway High School Senior. 

Experts who compiled the latest obesity statistics admitthat young adults with a large percentage of muscle can throw off thetraditional height to weight calculation they use to measure obesity, but thefindings are still accurate for the majority of subjects in their study.

If the current trends continue, military leaders say we'llbe in trouble if we need to raise a large fighting force in a short period oftime.  

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