Today’s July 4th, and probably most of us will hit a picnic and watch the fireworks with family and friends. It’s a great day to relax and enjoy the summer weather. But, hopefully, most of you also see it as a day to celebrate why we love America, and the freedoms we enjoy. So, as you’re fretting over ways to lose weight on your medical weight loss program at your Fourth of July picnic, you may want to consider how finding ways to lose weight and get in shape are other ideas for celebrating your patriotism today.
We’ve probably all heard the grim statistics: More than 60 percent of Americans are overweight or obese, and the numbers keep climbing. Overweight and obesity in turn can cause or worsen a host of other chronic conditions—including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. But what do these statistics really mean to our nation and our ability to defend the freedoms we all cherish?
A recent report by the National Bureau of Economic Research raised some disturbing trends. In its September 2010 report entitled Unfit for Service: The Implications of Rising Obesity for U.S. Military Recruitment, the researchers stated that the percentage of civilian military-age men and women who satisfy current military enlistment standards for weight-for-height and percent body fat has fallen significantly. The researchers attributed this to the skyrocketing increase in Americans who are overweight. They noted that as of 2007-08, nearly 12 percent of American men and 35 percent of women of military age exceed the U.S. Army’s enlistment standards for weight-for-height and percent body fat. According to the National Research Council, 23 percent of military applicants are rejected due to overweight or obesity—by far the leading cause of rejection.
The concerns were echoed by a report issued by a group of retired generals in 2010 entitled ‘Too Fat to Fight.’ These generals cited similar statistics, and went on to state, “Today, otherwise excellent recruit prospects, some of them with generations of sterling military service in their family history, are being turned away because they are just too overweight.”
The generals went on to unequivocally assert that the rising tide of obesity is a threat to military readiness and national security. They noted: “Our standards are high because we clearly cannot have people in our command who are not up to the job. Too many lives depend on it.”
The generals went on to request legislation to remove junk food from schools, to support increased funding to improve nutritional standards and the quality of meals served in schools, and to provide increased access to effective programs that reduce childhood obesity.
You may think this is a tragedy, but not necessarily see how it relates to you. Well, it does! Not only does finding ways to lose weight make you eligible to serve your country—should you desire it—but the changes you make in your diet and health have reverberations to those around you. When you start cooking healthy dinners at home, and bringing fresh fruits and veggies into your house, you profoundly impact the health and diet of your kids. When you choose to bring a healthy entrée to a picnic instead of cookies, you’re sending a message to your family and friends that health should be a priority. When you talk with your neighbors about ways to lose weight and the changes you’re making, eat out at restaurants less frequently, and agitate for healthier options in schools and workplaces, you’re creating better options and habits for your community. These are important! As a nation, we need to help build productive communities, and share the motivation and knowledge to create a fitter and healthier generation and a more secure nation. Finding ways to lose weight starts with you, so kudos for the progress you’re making every day. Happy Fourth!
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