Recent headlines about US kids being unfit to serve reminded me of a time when I was about nine, where my friend A told me I was too fat to join the army. I’m not really sure why she and I were talking about joining the military anyway, as we were usually playing with dolls or ghost-hunting, but I remember being really annoyed by it. Sure, I didn’t even want to join the army, but no one likes the idea of being rejected. Like most of the girls in my family, I went through a “chubby phase” between the ages of 9 and 10 and eventually outgrew it as my body figured itself out.

For a lot of kids, today, though, that “chubby phase” may actually not be a phase at all. I’ve always believed that a society comprised of healthy individuals is more likely to function well, but I had not given much thought to the function and efficiency of that country’s military.

My sister recently sent me this article about just that topic. Are US kids unfit to serve? In the Washington Post last week, two retired generals warned that a quarter of children are, in fact, too heavy to join the military. Obesity, they said, ruled out more potential recruits than any other factor.

That’s pretty significant when you consider the fact that obesity is something that can be prevented. These ex-commanders, along with 130 other retired generals, admirals, and other senior military officers, are calling on Congress to pass a new child nutrition legislation, which would ensure better food in schools—more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, and less sugar, sodium, and fat.

Though I have my feelings about war and the military, I can’t pretend they don’t have a place in our world today, and while I’d never considered obesity as a threat to national security, I guess we’ll see if this way of spinning the message works.

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