General: School lunches are U.S. national-security issue

by Lt. General Samuel E. Ebbesen

What's on kids' school-lunch trays can have an impact that reaches far beyond the cafeteria – even to the frontlines where our men and women serve.

If you're wondering why a retired general cares about school lunches, know that childhood obesity is a serious national security issue. When I served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for military personnel policy, I was responsible for recruitment, retention and related human-resource management of the U.S. Armed Services' 1.4 million active-duty members.

That is why I am alarmed that nearly one in three young adults ages 17 to 24 is too heavy to serve in the military. Among active-duty service members, 12 percent are obese based on their height and weight, an increase of 61 percent since 2002. The military's health system spends more than $1.5 billion annually treating obesity-related health problems and replacing troops discharged because they are unfit.

To read the full opinion piece from Reuters, click here.

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