Twinkie Terrorism: GOP Jeopardizes National Security by Encouraging Obesity

May 25 2012 Published by under Featured News

Republicans defend their right to eat whatever they please as freedom, but they are creating a national security risk as many of America’s military recruits are too fat to fight.

According to Kaiser Health News, “At a policy summit Wednesday, health and military experts said the obesity epidemic has become a significant threat to national security as the waistlines of military enlistees are expanding. Overweight and obese enlistees and soldiers are making it harder for recruiters to find physically fit candidates for military service.”

The cost of the military’s obesity problem is very real for taxpayers. A 2010 study by Mission: Readiness found that the military has been having difficulty finding fit recruits, and the problem continues after a recruit has signed up, “Every year, the military discharges over 1,200 first-term enlistees before their contracts are up because of weight problems; the military must then recruit and train their replacements at a cost of $50,000 for each man or woman, thus spending more than $60 million a year. That figure pales in comparison, however, to the cost of treating the obesity-related problems of military personnel and their families under the military’s health care system, TRICARE, or the cost of treating obesity-related problems under the veterans’ health care system.”

As fiscal conservatives allow hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to be spent treating obesity related issues in the military, at the same time as they wrap the flag in Chicken McNuggets and scream don’t tell me what to eat, Michelle Obama!!!

In February, the right wing had a collective freak out when First Lady Obama said that military diet was a national security issue, “And it’s happening because our military leaders know that this is not just a diet issue; it’s not just a health issue. This is truly a national security issue. According to a recent Army study, more than a quarter of our nation’s 17- to 24-year-olds are too overweight to serve in our armed forces today. And even those who make the cut often struggle in basic training. One Army general told me that after years of inactivity and poor nutrition, many recruits are just out of shape and they’re more likely to injure themselves in basic training. As a result, the military is spending more and more money on obesity-related injuries, health problems — and dental care, which was a surprise to me; the cost of dental care because of poor nutrition has gone up.”

Her remarks led to cries from the right that Michelle Obama’s food police were targeting the military, but the First Lady was correct — a healthy and fit military is essential to national security.

A military that has to spend part of its time acting as a fat camp for out of shape personnel is not going to be as well prepared to act quickly during a time of national emergency. It is common sense that America’s obese kids would grow up to become the nation’s obese military recruits, but this hypocrisy is conveniently ignored by Republicans who continue to put the agendas of agribusiness and the nation’s processed food giants ahead of the needs of the American people.

The decision to allow fast food chains on military bases goes back to 1983. In 1987, the Pentagon claimed that having fast food restaurants on base boosted morale, but 25 years later, that decision has had severe health consequences. Republicans and their agribusiness funders are undermining the military with their fat is freedom argument.

It is up to the individual to exercise self-discipline with their diet, but the right’s Twinkie terrorism disguised as freedom is literally weakening the backbone of our military. Offering our servicemen and women healthy food choices isn’t just smart health policy, it is important to national security.

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