At present, Mission: Readiness includes around 750 retired upper-echelon military leaders who stand for “evidence-based, bipartisan state and federal public policy solutions that are proven to prepare our youth for life and to be able to serve their nation in any way they choose.” The object is to help kids stay fit, in school, and out of trouble. Preventing malnutrition is one of the matters on the group’s agenda, and another very large concern is obesity.
Mission: Readiness is part of the Council for a Strong America, which also includes leaders from the law enforcement, business, health care, and economic development sectors of society. Their interests include not only military preparedness, but community safety, crime prevention, and the building of a competent and talented workforce to make sure every part of society achieves its potential. This can happen only by investing in the health, welfare, and education of the nation’s children, starting at a very young age.
In 2020, Mission: Readiness issued a report titled “Breaking Point: Child nutrition imperils America’s national security.” It revealed that weight issues would preclude almost one-third of America’s young people from military service. Even in the present era of voluntary enlistment, this is not good news, and if a national emergency necessitated reinstatement of the draft, it would be a disaster. The injury factor alone is forbidding. According to the report,
Army recruits in ten Southern states […] had lower levels of physical fitness, and were up to 28 percent more likely to be injured during basic training than their peers from other regions of the country. Another study found that active duty soldiers with obesity were 33 percent more likely to experience musculoskeletal injury, contributing to the nearly four million injuries that occurred among those on active duty between 2008 and 2017.
Ironically, the youth of Washington, D.C., the country’s capital, are the least fit of all. At the time the report was prepared, the estimated number of American children experiencing food insecurity was as high as 18 million. The authors warned that, although it may seem counterintuitive, the connection between food insecurity, malnutrition, and obesity is real because the lack of access to affordable, healthful groceries usually means that kids are eating the less costly and more accessible stuff, with a definite shortage of nutritional value but plenty of added obesogens.
Food insecurity, or the lack of access to affordable, healthy foods, can result in consuming cheaper and more accessible food, which often lacks nutritional value. The last sentence of the report’s Conclusion was,
Lawmakers must modernize federal nutrition programs, created out of concerns for national security, so that programs can continue to help prepare America’s children for strong futures throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
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Source: “Breaking Point: Child nutrition imperils America’s national security,” Strongnation, Sept. 2020
Image by Alachua County/Public Domain