Could what you eat today impact our military of tomorrow?
PHOENIX — Malnutrition and obesity are plaguing Arizona kids, but could this problem be a national security concern, too?
Retired Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan says yes.
“It’s a problem that strikes at the heart of military preparedness,” Buchanan says. “Excess bodyweight today is one of those primary disqualifiers for military service.”
Buchanan is part of Mission: Readiness, a group of retired military officers “working to strengthen national security by ensuring kids stay in school, stay fit and stay out of trouble.” According to the website, 71% of Americans cannot qualify for military service with a primary cause being obesity.
In Arizona that number is even higher at 72%.
“An alarming number of young adults in Arizona and beyond are not eligible to serve today, often due to excess weight or other forms of malnutrition caused by food insecurity, and that’s why food security is critical to national security,” Buchanan says.
He says 10% of 10–17-year-olds are obese. He theorizes that the problem may have gotten worse over the last few years with kids not having access to school lunches during the pandemic.