Saturday, August 17, 2013

Childhood Obesity Does Not Have to Lead to a Major U.S. Security Problem

Of course childhood obesity continues to be an important issue in our society. Obese children may suffer from type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. And since obese children often grow up to be obese adults, there is some concern that childhood obesity may put our country’s security in jeopardy.

In 2009, a military group looking at the issue of childhood obesity and its effects on the military concluded that ‘About 1 in 4 young American adults is now too overweight to join the military. Being overweight or obese is the number one medical reason why young adults cannot enlist.’ And the problem continues to be a concern today.

However, some actions appear to provide positive results in the fight against childhood obesity. For example, a recent study showed that by living a healthy lifestyle rather than just talking about a healthy lifestyle, parents can motivate their teenagers to also live a healthier lifestyle..

Further, with the appropriate home environment, the normal defensiveness that an obese child might show can be reduced. When this reduction in defensiveness is combined with family  support and encouragement, a child's likelihood of achieving a healthier lifestyle is increased

Also, approaches suggested by Michelle Obama’s "Let's Move" program can be used to lessen the dangers childhood obesity might engender for our military. The suggested approaches outlined in the program include: encouraging parents to set a good example by modeling a healthy lifestyle, which was mentioned above.

The suggestions also include:  “Encourage schools to create a healthy learning environment for children and youth, and to incorporate nutrition and physical education into the school day; urge community leaders to initiate and coordinate activities that promote healthy living;  aim directives at elected officials, health care providers and food prep professionals that address the roles that they can play in reducing childhood obesity."

Indeed, childhood obesity is a problem that could make a large percentage of the U.S. population’s young adults ineligible for the military. So childhood obesity puts limits on the number of persons who could potentially join the military. But there are actions being taken that may lessen this danger. And obesity medicine providers should play a major role in lessening this danger.

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