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Retired Military Leaders Call On Schools To Remove Junk Foods [AUDIO]

A group of retired military leaders has become the latest to call on schools across the nation to eliminate junk foods, calling obesity among our youth a threat to our national security.

Michael Hevesy, Getty Images

Mission: Readiness, a group of more than 300 retired military officials recently released a report entitled, “Still Too Fat to Fight,” which finds that 40 percent of students who buy high-calorie, low-nutrient junk food from school vending machines and a la carte lines in the cafeteria take in an average of 130 calories a day from those types of foods.

“At the end of the day, what keeps America safe and secure is not the tanks, planes, ships and technology, it’s the men and women who wear the uniform. When we see 9,000,000 men and women between the ages of 17 and 24 who can’t join the military simply because they are overweight or obese, we’re concerned,” said retired Air Force Lieutenant General Norman Seip, spokesman for Mission: Readiness.

Mission: Readiness applauds the efforts of Congress in passing the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, which directed the U.S. Department of Agriculture to revise the nutritional standards for the meals that are served in school.

“The act also requires the USDA to go after the experts and look at revamping the nutrition standards for the competitive foods, which include the foods that are served outside the cafeteria at the a la carte line, in vending machines and in school stores,” said Seip. “The standards for the school lunches has been enacted. We just want to see those standards implemented as quickly as possible on those competitive foods.”

“We want to have that pool of eligible folks to be as large as possible so that the private and public sector along with the military can have their fair share of the people they need to keep America safe and secure and to keep the country economically secure,” said Seip. “We discharge about 1,200 people a year prior to their enlistment running out for not meeting the weight standards. When you have to then recruit for that position that is now vacant, that adds up to about $60 million a year. We as a military community are spending about $1.1 billion to deal with obesity-related type medical issues including heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. So, it benefits all of us to be thinking about a more healthy lifestyle.”

“We’re not talking about emptying the vending machines and taking them away. We’re talking about updating the nutrition standards for the foods that are in those machines,” said Seip. “We purchase about 400 billion empty calories out of those machines every year. That equates to two billion candy bars. If I took those candy bars and lined them up, they were circle the earth six times and would weigh about 90,000 tons which is more than the weight of the aircraft carrier Midway, which weighs 70,000 tons.”

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