The nonprofit national security organization Mission:Readiness, comprised of retired military leaders, has a message for Colorado's kids: Shape up, or put your country at risk. And they're not mincing words at all.
In a report titled, "Too Fat, Frail, and Out-of-Breath to Fight," the group points to the military as a historical driver of change:
When malnutrition kept many young men from serving during WWII, General Lewis Hershey pushed successfully for the creation of the national school lunch program as a major force for children’s health. When the Soviet Union sparked national security concerns by successfully launching Sputnik as the first satellite to circle the earth, military leaders helped inspire improvements in the teaching of mathematics in U.S. schools.
Now, they say, the military should help solve a new, pressing national security problem—namely, obese children. And the solution to this problem is, among other things, more sidewalks. From the report:
First, community planners and builders can prioritize the creation of new transportation systems that prioritize sidewalks, trails, separate bike lanes and other longer-term built environment changes to substantially increase walking or biking to and from school and work.
This, plus more physical education and school and healthier lunches, could prep our kids for battle. Like a dystopian example of the ends justifying the means.
This is not the first time that Mission:Readiness has called out the nation for failing it's youth. Back in 2013, the group said in a report that three-quarters of Americans aged 17 to 24 can't join the military because of "failure to graduate high school, a criminal record, and physical fitness issues, including obesity." Harsh!
Though their intentions appear to be pure, the report may have ruffled some feathers in Colorado. Though the group's most recent report didn't mention graduation rates, the Colorado Springs Gazette said that in a conference announcing the findings, the retired officials called Colorado kids dumb:
A group of high-ranking military brass held a Colorado Springs news conference Wednesday warning parents and politicians that most kids in the Pikes Peak region are too fat, frail or stupid to fight for their country.
Also, apparently, someone in the crowd asked if they could just recruit fatter kids:
One solution the brass say they won't embrace: Buying bigger uniforms and accepting heftier recruits.
Another solution? Fewer wars.
Danielle Wiener-Bronner is a news reporter.