I saw a videoclip the other day on Morning Joe in which Tom Colicchio of Top Chef was discussing how the obesity epidemic is threatening our national security. According to Congressional testimony, some 40% of recruits have failed physical fitness tests due to obesity. That, in essence, means that our nation is experiencing a decline in viable military applicants. In a war that has now spanned a decade, that’s not good news.
But, this problem regarding obesity speaks to something more serious. Obesity is largely a symptom of poverty. Cheap foods are heavily subsidized by the goverment, making them easily affordable and readily available. This means that lower income individuals are, in a sense, victimized because they often cannot afford or do not have access to healthy, nutritious foods. School lunch programs are a perfect example of this. School lunches, comprised of highly processed foods, are subsidized by the goverment. That means the kids, who rely on cafeteria food as perhaps their only meal for the day, are not getting a nutritious one. The children who need the best food are getting the worst food. Eventually our goverment, and the nation as a whole, will pay the price. It’s no secret that a large percentage of the troops come from blue collar, working class families- the same families who sometimes rely on school lunch programs and eat the least expensive foods they can afford. The U.S. military needs these people to fill its ranks. It needs these people to maintain the national security that it prioritizes above all else. But, if government subsidies of cheap foods continues, there may be no viable military recruits left. The government must break this cycle by prioritizing the people it seeks to protect.
Click here to watch the video clip (starting at around the 14 min mark) in which Tom shows the connection between childhood obesity and national security.
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