Norman Seip, Lieutenant General, US Air Force (Retired) and a member of the Executive Advisory Council of Mission: Readiness, issued the following statement on behalf of Mission: Readiness in support of the updated school meal standards that have gone into effect this fall:
27 SEPTEMBER 2012
I am one of more than 100 retired generals and admirals who supported the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act that Congress passed with bipartisan support in 2010.
The retired generals and admirals of Mission: Readiness know that the poor state of nutrition among children is more than just a national health issue. It is a national security issue and an economic security issue.
The Department of Defense reports that being overweight or obese is the leading medical reason why young adults cannot enlist, with 1 in 4 too overweight to join.
In a time of record deficits, the Department of Defense spends well over $1 billion per year treating weight-related illness among those who have served and their dependents. That pales beside the $150 billion annual medical price tag of obesity in the general population.
The experts at the Institute of Medicine and U.S. Department of Agriculture used the best-known dietary science and consulted widely with stakeholders around the country before establishing the updated school meal standards that have gone into effect this fall. Many schools are doing a creative job in making healthy meals appealing. We need to give the standards a chance to work and give kids a chance to adjust to eating more fresh fruits and vegetables and a little less sugar, salt, and fat.
Schools should not undermine parents’ efforts to instill better eating habits in their children. Today, hundreds of retired generals and admirals stand alongside nutritionists and parents across America who believe that children deserve to eat healthful meals at school based on sound dietary science, not politics or special interests.
We need to keep in mind that the childhood obesity crisis is serious and is not going away. Any retreat from these new standards would mean turning our backs on the obesity crisis and on the future well-being of our children. With 1 in 4 young adults too overweight to serve our country in uniform, failure is not an option.