Obesity a national security issue, experts agree

Colour / Shutterstock.com

Improving school lunches and nutrition education are a key way to get Americans healthy enough to join the military, and a badly divided Congress might be amenable to cooperating on this one issue, obesity policy experts said said Wednesday.

The nation’s health is “a train wreck that is occurring in front of our eyes," said James Barnett, a retired Navy rear admiral who is now at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies and on the executive advisory council for Mission:Readiness.

“Obesity and our future military strength are linked,” Barnett said at a National Journal Live event. Three-quarters of Americans of military age are not qualified to join the military, largely because they are too overweight, Barnett said.

School food programs are a key way to keep kids healthy, since kids can get half their calories at school every day, Barnett said. He said schools need support -- financial and policy backing -- to provide nutrition education and remove junk food from school vending machines and lunches.

“If they are given the resources, the school nutritionists are so excited about these programs,” Barnett said. “We want to make sure we have as much impact as possible…and we can have a big impact there.”

Tracy Fox, the president of Food, Nutrition & Policy Consultants, said First Lady Michelle Obama’s efforts to reduce childhood obesity were a great first step, but more work was needed.

“It’s time now to certainly applaud her efforts and support, but we really need to kind of take it to the next level. The prevention fund that was part of the [Affordable Care Act] is being nipped at and used for other things not related to prevention funding,” Fox said. “We have very significant threats.”

(Image via Colour /Shutterstock.com)

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.