Unfit for Duty

So, what you’re saying is that obesity is the unrecognized nation-wide anti-war protest? A strategy the communities hardest hit by the war employ, maybe subconsciously, to keep their kids out of the military?

And, if so, who can blame them?

I mean, you wonder why else 27% is such an issue for the military. That still leaves 73% of the population useful to them. But when you start looking at the overlap between the communities where the military recruits most heavily and the communities in which the obesity rates are highest, you start to wonder about the correlation, you know?

I’m not saying I buy it. And there’s a real danger of making this all about how Mom is Ruining America’s Youth! Blame the women!!!! But if the narrative is going to be “obesity is something these people are doing to themselves in order to ruin it for us good people,” I love seeing some tacit acknowledgment that there are circumstances in which having an obese child means having a living child; that it can make sense as a survival tactic.

(Though I think there are a lot of reasons people are fat and trying to come up with one overarching reason–“they’re doing this on purpose to themselves!! Aren’t they disgusting?!”–is stupid and cruel.)

34 thoughts on “Unfit for Duty

  1. This is reminding me of a very interesting editorial on NPR a couple of years ago, talking about the disconnect between our political leadership and our military:


    In the past, members of our cultural elite, the rich, the educated, would serve in the military and so would understand that world, could apply that experience when they became political leaders. Now the military is largely comprised of the poor, and the cultural and political leadership doesn’t know, understand, and often doesn’t respect, the people who join the military. Though they won’t admit it.

    It’s still too early in the morning, and my brain is too foggy for me to make the connection between that story and the obesity story. But I’ve got a gut feeling (Ha! Gut!) that there’s a connection. A “how dare you poor and thus also stupid and therefore fat people mess it up for the rest of us, your betters?” connection

  2. A strategy the communities hardest hit by the war employ, maybe subconsciously, to keep their kids out of the military?

    I did not get that from the link, that it was intentional. In fact, since we don’t have a draft and our military is all-voluntary, that claim would make no sense. (Yes I know you are saying that in some communities people have no choice but to join the military as there are no other job options … still, not buying that’s what the generals are saying).

    This is not a new story, by the way. Seems like we hear something like this every year. Last year it was “Pentagon reports U.S. troop obesity doubles since 2003”.

    What I got these military folks saying is that a nation of obese people is not fit enough to defend itself and is therefore a threat to national security. I don’t know that we’re that far gone, and I hate the hyperbolic language, but it’s the military so what do you expect. I would expect us also to hear from the business community that our national obesity is a threat to economic security and a threat to all sorts of things. We haven’t heard that, though.

    Again, I don’t like the hyperbolic language but there’s no denying the facts. We DO have an obesity epidemic in this country. And yes, school lunches are a very important component of that. Here’s a blog with some good information on why that’s important.

    Two weekends ago I went to the Nashville Zoo and I was shocked at how many morbidly obese people I saw. I’m not talking about people who need to lose 20 or even 30 pounds, I’m talking about people carrying an extra 100 , 200 or even 300 pounds. Used to be you’d see the occasional person that heavy, now I see them all the time. And these supersized parents had very large children. You could just see how these foods issues were passed on to the next generation.

    Obesity is a complicated issue. Our government’s policies related to farm subsidies has a lot to do with it, because the government is paying farmers to grow more corn than any country in its right mind would ever need, so the ag industry has found ways to put corn in everything from soft drinks, popsicles and cupcakes to Big Macs and fish sticks. It’s high glycemic and it’s not healthy. It makes you fat and it’s also heavily subsidized by the government which makes it cheap.

    Personally, I think a big part of the problem is that there are so many chemicals and toxins in our environment that it has put peoples’ adrenal system out of whack on a massive scale. There’s crap in our water, crap in our food. Soft drinks are poison — I’m sorry, they are, I know you’re a Diet DP fan, and so was I but those chemicals were not meant to enter the human body. It will throw your hormones out of whack and everything else, too.

    Our health and the health of our planet are connected. That’s the plain truth of it.

    I am sure this is annoying everyone to read. I’m sorry. I was raised by a health food nut. We grew up having Vitamin C tablets shoved down our throats. My dad’s mantra was “sugar is poison!” We had Brewer’s yeast shakes and wheat germ. Sounds awful, huh? Yeah it was nasty. And guess what, my dad was killed by a car, not cancer. When your time is up, it’s up.

    My advice to the nation: give up the fast food. It’s toxic waste on a bun. Go organic if you can. Yes it’s more expensive, but think of all the money you’ll save on chemo down the road. *Never* use plastic, ever. Not plastic water bottles, or Tupperware or any of that. Those chemicals leach into the food and they WILL fuck with your metabolism.

    Not everyone can do this, but we can support measures like local community gardens that are a first step toward a healthier America.


  3. Southern Beale, you are talking about me. When you talk about going to the zoo and seeing all these fat people who are a problem, you are talking about me.

    And you know what? I don’t want to hear that I’m a fucking problem, that my body is a problem for anyone but me. And it’s not a problem for me, because it’s my fucking body.

    This is my whole problem with the “obesity” discussion–that I’m supposed to sit here and let people who ostensibly like me talk about my body like it’s a disgusting problem.

    You cannot begin to imagine how much that sucks. To hear it from people I like and who I know like me.

    On my own blog, even.

    I mean, fuck, all the time we here “Oh, get out and move around and exercise, fatty” and then when we go to the zoo someone else is like “Oh my god, I went to the zoo and you would not believe all the fat people I saw there!”

    I mean, really, are you fucking kidding me?

  4. No I’m not kidding. Obesity is a problem. It’s your problem and it’s my problem. It’s everyone’s problem. It’s a problem because people are DYING from this disease. That’s reality. When an obese person dies at 50 instead of 80, that’s a problem for the country. That’s 30 years of your contribution to American society that we have lost, for one thing. I’m sorry you don’t like the language, I don’t have a better more elegant way to phrase it.

    Where did I say the problem was because people are lazy and aren’t moving around or exercising enough? Never once. I did not say that because I don’t believe it. Please don’t put words in my mouth. PLEASE don’t do that.

    The issue is complicated, I get that. But if we can’t have a conversation about it then what’s the point of even bringing it up?

  5. Southern Beale, the numbers of deaths, and the measurable risks directly attributable to obesity have been grossly inflated. Vastly. Most of the research out there sees correlations between body mass and illness, but almost never can it show a causal relationship. Instead the causalities that HAVE been shown are almost always between lack of activity and illness, or poor diet and illness. That is not the same as a correlation between body weight and illness, as long as active, healthy-eating fat people exist, and as long as inactive, junk-eating thin people exist. We all know examples of each.

    Back to the military/body weight issue, I’m reminded of my sister’s experience. She’s been in the army for almost twenty years, and started out as a relatively thin 18 year old. Now she’s pushing 40, and buying snake oil like Alli to lose five or ten pounds to stay under the weight limits. When she was in training her roommates developed eating disorders to stay under those same weight limits. I’m absolutely convinced that the military’s weight standards, particularly those for women, are not based on physical movement and effectiveness, but are based on appearances. There’s no way my 5’6″, 130 pound sister needs to lose weight to do her job well, even the most active parts of it. So, this “OMG everyone’s too fat to be in the military!” baloney is particularly baloney-filled.

  6. I’m sure everyone has seen this from the NY Times, which discusses how much we don’t know about the connection between exercise, appetite, diet, and weight. And about the differences in the ways in which men’s and women’s bodies react to changes in any of the above. I do think that there are health issues in this country, and I do think that many of them are due to the prevalence of processed foods and HFCS. I’m just not sure that they correlate neatly with weight issues, and I’m not sure at all that any causal connection between weight and health has been established. And until we can disentangle the way we talk about those factors, I’m not sure how we get a handle on any of them.

  7. O.C. —

    You may be correct about the military’s standards being out of whack, I don’t know. Sounds like they are stressing about low recruiting during a two-front war, same stuff we’ve always heard.

    I’m not a doctor & I’m not a health scientist. I get my info from the news, which says obesity adds $150 billion a year to the nation’s health costs, based on various NIH studies. I have no way of knowing if that’s correct. Apparently this is the gold standard for scientific research and I’m not equipped to mine through the data and determine how accurate the Calle study is. I leave that for the professionals.

    It seems to me that anything which causes early death, be it tobacco use, alcohol consumption, drunk driving, poisoned water, poisoned air, or, yes, obesity is something worthy of being labeled a “problem” that deserves the attention of those who direct the nation’s policy. And I would hope when we discuss these issues that it would be understood that no one is calling actual PEOPLE a “problem” but rather the issue itself.

    My mother smoked three packs of cigarettes a day for 30 years. She had her first stroke at age 57. Problem? Yeah, a huge fucking problem. Don’t even get me started with the “lost productivity” crap and how my sister and I were affected by this, I mean I quit my job so I could take care of her. Multiply that a gazillion times and I can see this impacting some national statistics. If the U.S. government is going to put tobacco companies out of business our of our national interests I certainly can see why those involved in ag and health policy would want to tackle the obesity issue.

    And while we’re at it, this issue is not just a problem for America, but is rather a global issue affecting 1 billion people, according to WHO.

  8. Beale, every risk you list is a behavior or an environmental factor, except for obesity. Obesity is a physical characteristic, not a behavior.

    Think of it this way: Smoking causes yellowed teeth. Therefore yellowed teeth are correlated with lung cancer. Doesn’t mean the yellowing caused the cancer.

    I’ve been answering reference questions all day, so I’m going to take the weenie way out and not look up the references that are out there that will back me up. I hope one of the other librarians will. But I will say that Gina Kolata’s book “Rethinking Thin” covers ALL of this, well, and succinctly. Laura Fraser’s “Losing It” does too. And Linda Bacon’s work. She’s got a website, easily googleable.

  9. “Used to be you’d see the occasional person that heavy, now I see them all the time.”

    I contend this is the same experience to seeing the same car EVERYWHERE right after you buy a new car yourself, or after you learn a new word you hear a few times a day for the next week or so, etc.

    Expectation plays such a significant role in observation. So many people keep telling us about how fat we all are now. You go outside and it gets confirmed. But I just don’t think it’s all that different than a couple decades ago.

    Heck, a couple decades ago I was a child and wasn’t looking at adult bodies for the same reasons or in the same ways. So even if I do notice lots of fat people now (plenty of whom I find quite cute and sexy and appealing), I have no idea how to compare it to the good ole days of yore.

  10. (tiptoes into thread)

    With all due respect to both SoBeale and Aunt B., and not wanting to presume anything, I think there is room for agreement here–you can say, as Aunt B. does, that discrimination against fat people is endemic in our society, that measures like the “obesity task force” aren’t worth much, and that saying that “obesity is the problem” only masks the much larger problems, of which obesity is a symptom.

    On the other hand, no, I don’t think anyone can (or would, on this blog) claim that school meals in their current form are all completely fine and there is absolutely nothing wrong with classifying french fries as a vegetable for the purposes of saying that we give kids enough vegetables. It may be a strange critique for the military to make in this context, but it doesn’t make THAT any less of a problem.

    (tiptoes back out of thread)

  11. As a female, currently in the Air Force I can comment on O.C.’s statement about the whacked out military weight statements.

    It is totally about appearance. In the Air Force, even if you meet, or exceed the fitness standards you can still be kicked out of the service for not “meeting physical standards”. The sole requirement needed for this to happen? Your commander has to decide you don’t “present the proper image” while in uniform.

    That’s it. You don’t look the way he wants you to in uniform. Granted, it can be pretty easy to fight this, because kicking someone out is a hugely complicated, beaurocratic process, and very few commanders want to go through the hassle, but the rule is on the books.

    And in my, humble, opinion, total bullshit.

  12. Yes, but, GoldnI, as Jamie Oliver and the school system he worked with/against in West Virginia discovered, what kids are served at school meals is highly regulated at a lot of different levels. It’s not easy to change.

    Plus, for a lot of kids in our schools, the meals they get are the only consistent source of calories they have. It’s not the schools’ job to make kids fit for being soldiers. It’s the schools’ jobs to make sure that kids have enough calories to function, enough calories to support their growing brains and bodies.

    Let’s say these “terrible” mothers are making their kids fat by feeding them nothing but junk food. If lunch is the only time these kids are getting fruits and vegetables, is that really where you want to start restricting their calories?

    My point, in this post, though obviously couched in snark, is not that the military is drawing the connection between obesity and an anti-war effort, but that I am drawing the humorous conclusion that obesity could be seen as a legitimate form of anti-war protest.

    Let me be as clear as I possibly can about this. I find this whole topic incredibly painful and embarrassing to write about. I will, often, make jokes about it to diffuse my own pain and embarrassment about the topic.

    When you discuss obese people, you are talking about me. When you discuss obesity and the obesity problem, you are entering a discussion in which I and the people I love are framed as being a problem for you to solve.


    Let me be as clear about that as I can. I AM NOT YOUR PROBLEM. If we are all being poisoned by HFCS or aspartame or plastics and my body shows evidence of that in ways your body does not, the problem is still that we are all being poisoned. It is not that you have looked at my body and concurred with everyone else that it is a problem.

    Setting up dynamics in which we convince people that certain bodies (which just so happen to be bodies women, children, and poor people come in) are problematic and must be monitored isn’t new. That’s how the system works.

    If we know it’s wrong and fucked up and overly simplistic to monitor black people for signs of social transgression because our society teaches us that black people are continually fucking things up for everyone, we should be vigilant about other societal memes that allow us to feel okay about monitoring people based on some physical characteristic that supposedly tells us all we need to know about how they are fucking up.

    Especially when the intersection between “black” and “fat” is so obvious.

    It’s the monitoring that’s wrong. It’s the belief that there’s some physical characteristic–be it skin color (which closely correlates with health and criminality in this society for reasons that have nothing to do with something inherent in skin color) or shape of head or shape of body–that reveals some “truth” about the person who holds those characteristics, a truth that everyone can know from listening to “experts,” and discounting the lived experiences of the people who actually are in that group.

    It’s not that we’re wrong to do that shit to, say, brown people because it’s bad to pick on brown people, but is totally fine if we do it to fat people.

    It’s wrong to do that shit. It’s wrong to look at physical characteristics of someone and think that tells you something about their character. It’s wrong to think that it’s okay for you to take your ideas and unproven theories about what makes that group that way and enact social policy to get them to conform to what you want.

    It’s a terrible impulse.

    And, like I said, this is a very painful conversation for me to have. And one in which I always feel like there is no way for us to be on equal footing as long as I have to beg and insist upon being seen as a person and not as a problem.

    Believe me, I would rather a hundred times over to not talk about this shit. I don’t know how people like Kate Harding do it. Even writing this comment took me all night and makes me want to throw up.

    But I see, repeatedly, in this state that people who think they are good people think that this is one instance in which succumbing to stereotypes and media simplifications is maybe okay; that this one time it’s okay for us to fuck in the lives of people we don’t know, based on our superstitions about their behavior and health based on their body type.

    And it’s not.

    That’s a door that leads only to vile places and needs to be kept firmly shut.

    I mean, seriously, do we really want to sit around and talk about how we should restrict the nutritional intake of kids whose brains are growing?! Is that really the common ground we’re supposed to be able to find? That maybe it’d be okay to give less food to some humans in the middle of massive growth and development without even asking what kinds of effects nutritional restrictions could have on that growth and development?

    No, that’s not actually a conversation I want to have.

    I wish Tennessee had a different fat advocate, but until that person steps forward, you are stuck with me.

    And when we have these conversations, it’s always going to be painful and suck because some folks having these conversations know what it’s like and some folks don’t.

  13. OK, this is something of a derail, but … if we look specifically at school lunches, which is where the military is going with this, and we consider that, as B points out, school lunches and breakfasts provide a shockingly high proportion of the nutrition that a shockingly high proportion of kids in this country eat, then we are left with a couple of facts.

    First, we owe those school lunches to the military. Because some shockingly high percentage of draftees in the Second World War were so undernourished (partly because of unequal distribution of food, and partly because of the general effects of the Depression) that they were unfit for service. And the brass were partly shocked that they couldn’t get their hands on more soldiers and partly shocked that there were so many young people who had grown up without enough food to eat. So it’s largely thanks to lobbying by the military that the program was established right after the war. (Which is why a lot of food procurement for the program is tied up with DoD procurement.)

    So it’s hard to blame the military for feeling somewhat proprietary about school lunches, and thinking that they have the right to demand some changes. I’m not saying that they’re right, but it’s easy enough to see why they think so. And, face it, they’re one of the few institutions in this country with enough clout to possibly make some changes happen, complex though the system is.

    Second, no matter what a jerk Jamie Oliver is and no matter how hateful fat-haters may be, there is a problem with school lunches. It’s not that they make people fat (which is not proven); it’s that they’re not nutritious. Ever since Reagan started trying to define ketchup as a vegetable (and maybe before, for all I know), we’ve been substituting salt and sugars for vitamins and minerals in what the gov’t provides.

    And whether the goal is more soldiers or better students, or even just more kids who feel better in bodies that work right, that’s not helpful. Yes, providing better food will cost more, and require some changes in the way things are done. If the armed forces of this country can make that happen, one point for them.

  14. Damn. Beautifully said, but I am so sorry you (understandably) felt the need to write that.

    Deciding that certain segments of the population are, at best, morally suspect, intellectually inferior, and physically repugnant based on some particular aspect of physical appearance is one of the worst things a person can do to another. Stop it. Just stop it.

  15. Good response, NM.

    There’s that blogger, a teacher, who’s eating the school lunch every day for a year and documenting it, http://fedupwithschoollunch.blogspot.com/. I’ve been shocked at how processed the lunches are, how much extraneous packaging there is to them. I remember my school lunches as being kind of gross, but at least they were made of food that was cooked there at the school and not served on disposable plates.

    Amen to all proposals to improve the nutrition of school lunches. That will help ALL kids.

    But if we still frame that solution in terms of childhood obesity we’ll be doomed to failure. One of the studies Kolata talks about in “Rethinking Thin” was a study comparing two schools, one an experiment, one a control. The experimental school got all the interventions that are thought to help eradicate obesity: Longer recess periods, more PE, better lunches, health education, everything. The control school got none of these. At the end of the experiment the kids in the treatment school had improved in health measures compared to the control, but the kids did not lose weight.

    Which goes back to what B and I were talking about above. Weight does not equal health. And when any program or politician starts to talk about them as one and the same we start to go down some scary roads.

    Oh, and JLeigh, thanks for your story about the air force and weight/appearance. You’re reminding me that as my sister’s roommates were starving themselves to make weight for their military academy’s women’s athletic teams, the football team had some huge guys on it who weren’t even able to hike up a hill with their gear. Not only did it sound like the weight standards weren’t based on function, but they were sexist too. Surprise.

  16. *facepalm*

    I can’t even get through the comment thread because I keep facepalming. Obesity is not a disease. It’s a vague descriptor.

    A friend of mine is “obese”. She’s strong, has spectacular cardiovascular health, and teaches and performs a violently aerobic form of dance. I’m “normal weight”, but fat and weak from lengthy illness. By appearance alone, most people would say she’s fat and I’m thin/normal in need of a few workouts.

    “Obesity” is not a disease nor a condition nor a problem in any meaningful sense. All it describes is a certain range of BMI, which has nothing whatsoever to do with health.

  17. There’s no way my 5′6″, 130 pound sister needs to lose weight to do her job well,

    Holy shit. At 5’6″, how the hell is she supposed to maintain decent muscle mass at under 130? That’s not about health, that’s about forcing women to stay weak.

  18. Amen to all proposals to improve the nutrition of school lunches. That will help ALL kids.

    But if we still frame that solution in terms of childhood obesity we’ll be doomed to failure.

    Yes. And we’ll be beside the point as well. I despise the focus on how women’s (and, increasingly, men’s) bodies look to some viewer who thinks airbrushed entertainers ought to be the standard. But I think a focus on health is different. That’s what I meant in my first comment on this thread about disentangling the two. Not just because confusing them makes it painful for some people (though, of course, not doing unnecessary things that are painful for others, and pointing out such things when they go on, is itself a worthy practice). But because one of them matters and the other doesn’t, and the one that matters (health) can’t be achieved by measures aimed in some mixed-up way at irrelevancies.

  19. Heh. Helen, I used to be the spectacularly fit heavy girl. I’m not so spectacularly fit any more. I can tell the difference, so I’m not clear about why others can’t.

  20. I keep thinking it’s about hating physically strong women. That friend of mine is a 5’2″ powerhouse. She is just not built to be cosmetically thin and never has been, and if she starved herself down to “normal” BMI, she’d be weak.

  21. Military not allowing women enough body weight to maximize strength and health + military epidemic of rape of women in service + military-wide cover-up of rape epidemic = I think I’m going to go throw up now.

    We can’t be having those female soldiers strong enough to fight off the men soldiers, now can we?

  22. Helen, now I want to learn a “violently aerobic form of dance”. That sounds just. too. cool.

    RE: army standards, I’m not sure they’re pressuring my sister to go below 130, but she sure is trying hard not to go above it.

  23. O.C., I have no idea what dance form Helen was referring to, but let me recommend Rumanian folk dances for a full cardio workout plus agility training.

  24. Tap. To be a good tap dancer, you have to have the agility and endurance of a 1500m runner. Many of the kids in my daughter’s studio cross-train with track.

  25. It’s the schools’ jobs to make sure that kids have enough calories to function, enough calories to support their growing brains and bodies.

    I thought it was the schools’ job to provide proper nutrition. But I’m old school. I realize we got off the school lunch “nutrition” track back when St. Ronnie decided the federal government could classify ketchup as a vegetable. A packet of ketchup is loaded with corn syrup and salt and is as far removed from an actual real tomato as those fillers they put in hamburgers are removed from a cow. So yes, government policy does have an impact here.

    And I also firmly believe that the health of the planet and the health of its people are related. I think exposure to BPA and other toxins which fuck with the adrenal system is a health issue and I think that stuff should be banned. Would an obesity task force look at the effect of environmental toxins? Doubtful.

    Maybe we were reading different articles but nowhere did I see anyone equate school lunches and childhood obesity with an antiwar effort. I didn’t see that said anywhere. What did I miss?

    Nor did I see anyone, anywhere, make the claim that “terrible” mothers are making their kids fat by feeding their kids junk food. Who said that? That’s not the issue here.


    I read that New York Times article when it come out a week or so ago about exercise and was surprised that the spin became “scientists say exercise doesn’t help you lose weight.” Which is not what the article said at all, in fact, it said exercise *alone* won’t help you lose weight but it will help you maintain your weight. And I’m not sure I even buy that, because so much is dependent on your age and other factors.

  26. Just for fun I plugged in 5-ft 6 inches and 130 pounds in the NIH’s BMI calculator and it came in as smack in the middle of the “normal” range. So if the U.S. military is telling a 5′6″, 130 lb woman to lose weight to do her job well, they aren’t using the same BMI standard as the National Institutes of Health. If that’s the case I’d like to know what standard they are using.

  27. If the problem truly is obesity, let’s just give every obese person in the country liposuction and the problem is solved. That’s much easier (and I suspect, in the long run, cheaper) than any other plan.

    Of course, the problem isn’t really obesity, it’s lifestyle choices and behavior of which obesity can sometimes be a result of. So why not focus on those instead? If I have a broken bone, I’d much rather the doctor set it, than to just dope me up on pain killers to get rid of the symptom.

  28. But the problem isn’t obesity. Obesity is, at best a correlation to some of these problems. It doesn’t even seem to be a remote cause, like smoking. It might in some cases be a consequence or side effect of some medical problems.

    The problem, even in terms of the the concerns Southern Beale keeps raising, is cancer and diabetes and heart disease, and endocrine problems, etc.

    Diet and lifestyle of many Americans might even be a problem.

    But thinking you can determine a person’s health, diet, lifestyle, stamina, strength, etc (or their moral character) by glancing at their body is not only bullshit. It is cruel and discriminatory.

  29. Actually, SB, what the article says is that studies of exercise and weight loss are contradictory and unclear,* and that we’re just starting to understand things about how human bodies respond to exercise. It’s sort of resolutely non-committal about any further conclusions.

    *For instance, properly conducted studies show that exercise helps to maintain weight levels. Other properly conducted studies show that exercise increases women’s appetites and puts women’s digestive cycles into fat-packing-on mode. Either at least one of these studies has problems not immediately evident, or there are complicating factors we aren’t yet aware of.

  30. Aunt B. et al,

    I happen to work for the same umbrella organization that is behind this report. So let me try to put some of this in context.

    Mission Readiness exists to have retired flag officers advocate on a range of issues that will benefit America’s children in much the same way that my organization, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, recruits law enforcement leaders.

    Today some 70% of Americans between 17 and 24 are ineligible to join the military. Obesity is just one element of the problem. A lack of education and youths with criminal records are also major contributors.

    Mission Readiness’s goal is not about judging young people’s appearance. It is simply looking at the standards that the military sets for recruits and saying that too many young people cannot meet those standards, why and what can be done to increase the number of those who are eligible.

    Someone above suggested that the standards are arbitrary. And that is certainly true. But some mechanism must exist in order to reduce the number of people who cannot complete basic trainging for physical reasons just like some mechanism must exist for educational standards since the military cannot be a remedial education facility.

  31. Yes, but, GoldnI, as Jamie Oliver and the school system he worked with/against in West Virginia discovered, what kids are served at school meals is highly regulated at a lot of different levels. It’s not easy to change.

    Generally, things that aren’t easy to change are the ones most worth changing.

    To look at the lunches in the blog that O.C. linked to, it’s not anti-obese bigotry to see a huge problem there. It doesn’t have to be couched in terms of “preventing obesity” or “military readiness,” it’s just a problem in its own right.

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