Our young adults are “Not the Very Model of a Major General” because they are too fat. A disturbing report, “Too Fat, Frail, and Out of Breath to Fight”,  prepared by a retired Major General, General and Admiral in the U.S. Military, and funded by the non-profit group, Mission Readiness Minnesota, breaks bad news. It provides us with the stark consequences of the last two decades of the childhood obesity epidemic.  For any pediatric endocrinologist, the medical statistics may be familiar — especially for those who frequently see patients with BMIs over 40. But the epidemic has now created a national security problem for our all-volunteer military.

You can access the report here: http://missionreadiness.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/MN-Physical-Activity-Report.pdf

It concludes:

  • Nearly one in three young Americans is too overweight to serve.
  • > 60 percent of non-deployed active duty service members experience a sprain, stress fracture, or other musculoskeletal injury each year due in part to years of low calcium intake, lack of long-term exercise habits and/or excess weight. The military is spending billions treating these injuries among active duty personnel and veterans.
  • In Minnesota alone: 69 percent of young adults cannot serve in the military; 10% of young adults has asthma, which disqualifies them from service, but which is linked to obesity.

Bioethicist, Art Caplan, had this to say about the report: http://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/bioethicist-deep-fat-fryers-schools-business-not-freedom-n353486

Given the state of international conflicts, the U.S. Military may need to call upon pediatric endocrinologists, above all others, to serve their country by telling schools, once and for all, what to serve our children. In the meantime, an all-volunteer military appears to be unsustainable if our kids don’t slim down.