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Too fat to fight: Colorado nonprofit says military threatened by childhood obesity

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“When you do introduce that rigorous physical activity to some of them, that’s when you discover the serious health issues that went undiagnosed.” 

Colorado Gazette

Even the kids in America’s fittest state are too fat to fight their nation’s wars, a pro-military nonprofit argues in a new study.

The military has long bemoaned America’s tubby youth, and the Council for a Strong America says Colorado is part of the problem, with more than 27 percent of the state’s children categorized as overweight.

“Low levels of physical activity and the obesity epidemic are contributing to an unprecedented readiness problem for our armed forces,” the nonprofit said.

Those extra candy bars compound a complex problem for military recruiting. Between other health issues, criminal records and other troubles from facial tattoos to drug habits, a full 70 percent of Colorado teens are ineligible for military service.

Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Terrance McWilliams said extra pounds are of special concern because weight can cost lives on the battlefield.

“It gets extremely dangerous when you can’t keep up with the rest of the pack,” said McWilliams, the former top enlisted soldier at Fort Carson. “You are putting your fellow comrades at greater risk.”

Strong America’s lament might sound familiar. The nonprofit has been citing the issue for years as a danger to America’s national security.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says about 17 percent of America’s kids are overweight. But the military has a tougher standard. A 6-foot teenage recruit is expected to weigh less than 184 pounds by military standards, when most medical charts would let him have 12 more pounds of cheeseburgers.

M. Michael Cooke, Strong America’s state director, said the nonprofit sees the goal of slimmer kids as more than a military imperative.

“It does render those kids unfit to fight but there are many other reasons to combat childhood obesity,” she said.

Cooke said fat children face health challenges for a lifetime, costing society.

Extended story, Colorado Gazette

By: Tom Roeder October 14, 2017

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