Is the Army too fat to fight? Maybe yes says military leaders in an on going concern started a few years ago over the increasing obesity in the ranks. Apparently 1 in 4 people applying to enlist are turned away for being too fat. This report from CNN gives just a glimpse into this issue plaguing our armed forces. But is this really a crisis of national security?
|Pictures like this circulate the internet, often by member groups of other|
branches, truth is, the obesity problem stretches across all services...
|Even in my youth at 19 at 72", I weighed over 200 pounds...but I also benched 325 pounds, could do 65 push ups, 75 sit ups and run 2 miles in under 14 minutes on my PT test too....|
As a matter of disclosure, I will openly admit that I have been on the AWCP in the past, mostly later in my career. Any pictures I may of posted previously of me on deployment will show a soldier who is "being all he can be", often more that Uncle Sam liked. I was always a "big guy" and as a youngster I could handle the extra weight by exercise and activity. Later in life and the military as genetics and my metabolism caught up to me finding time and energy wasn't always easy, especially when not in an active military status where you actually get paid to work out. I wasn't always the best soldier I could of been, but I always passed my PT test regardless of how many extra pounds I may have carried. Oh yeah, I was never flagged while I was an 11Bravo (Infantryman) either, it all came after I switched to Admin and sat in an office with coffee and donuts nearby. Yeah, all of that's an excuse, you can call me on it if you like....won't frost my balls. I take full responsibility for my mistakes in this regard...and its all behind me now. And no, I don't mean I have a fat ass....actually, I have no ass according to my wife.
Anyway, while the AWCP (and other similar programs in other services) combated the symptoms of what is a national disease, they did not address the problem. That being that as a country...WE ARE FATTIES!
|Fat Cat and Porky Puppy|
We are a nation that actually has so much food we can afford to get fat. You don't see too many commercials on TV with missionaries showing pictures of starving kids from this country (although we do have people right here every day that go hungry). We throw and estimated 20% of our food away...20%! When they talk of people in this country being worried that the won't have enough to eat a lot of times it means folks are worried about having enough food for multiple meals. Many in the rest of the world relies on eating just once a day, if that.
We are also more urban that rural now. Back when we had an agrarian society many more people had to do manual labor to earn a living. This helped burn calories in their diet that now go unspent with today more sedimentary lifestyle. As we reached the industrial age people started to congregate in cities. This had a few important impacts on American nutrition.
- The more regulated schedule of the industrial work in the factory conditioned people to force themselves to eat when "appropriate" instead of when hungry (the "lunch break"). Additionally, the traditional rural practice of eating a larger meal in the middle of the day and lighter in the even was reduced with the introduction of the short lunch period, thus putting more food in our stomachs at the end of the day when our metabolisms are the slowest while sleeping
- The urban American lost contact with where their food came from. Instead of being in an environment where they grew or purchased their own fresh vegetables and meat locally, the urban dweller was forced to buy their food from stores that grew larger and larger as time went on. Advances in canning and other food storage technologies meant that less and less fresh vegetables and grains were consumed, replaces with salt laden canned and frozen varieties and breads lacking in whole grain nutrients stripped out for appearance sake.
- Our desire for convenience extended to the food service industry where the words "fast" and "nutritious" didn't necessarily coexist in the same context. Fat and sodium added flavor to the food but also added calories. Also, the preparation methods were not always the healthiest with foods fried in saturated animal fats and palm oils being a the cheapest method but not very healthy. To make matters worse, to attract business from the competition, chains started offering more food at lower prices. A larger drink didn't cost them that much more and the increased business meant that profits soared. Remember the move Supersize Me? I don't agree with some of the stuff Morgan Sperlock has done in other political areas, but he was dead on in this movie.
What does all of this have to do with the military?
As I have stated before, the military is just a representative slice of America, if America is loaded with fatties who do you think will be walking into the recruiting stations to enlist? I think its fair to say that the problem is more prevalent in the reserve component where guys and girls are not on duty 24/7 and have to balance a job, family and other commitments to make a living and doing PT may not be a regular occurrence. In addition, many of the conveniences in the civilian world that helped caused the obesity epidemic have made it to the controlled environment of military life. Burger King, Red Robin Sandwich shops and Anthony Pizza chains are located in all major military installations. Even deployed locations are covered with fast food shacks to placate the pallet of the American soldier.
Well, the associated medial cost of obesity have risen to approximately $1 Billion for just military member, retirees, veterans and their families alone. Take into consideration that the military is just a sample representation of the rest of the country, and that less than 7% of the population are veterans and you can guess at the total cost to our country.
To obese individuals, the costs are much more personal and higher...
- Heart Disease
- High Blood pressure
- High "bad" cholesterol
- Liver and Gall Bladder disease
- Sleep Apnea
- Issues related to structural strain due to joints and bones supporting more weight than designed
- Sexual dsyfunction
- Lack of enjoyment of life activities
- And the list goes on....
Anyone else want to join me for the challenge of slowing the progression to the grave?