Concerned that teenage obesity has dramatically reduced the number of people eligible for military service, Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., has introduced legislation to create an education program about healthy lifestyles.
It includes the possibility of opening on-base gyms and recreation facilities to young people and having the military provide educational materials about exercise and computing body mass index.
Udall, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he represents “the healthiest state in the nation, but even we must confront one of our fastest-growing problems: our waistlines.”
His bill, S 976, was developed in consultation with the Campaign to End Obesity and with Mission: Readiness, a group of retired military leaders advocating improvement in education for children as a way of improving national security.
“Nearly three-quarters of all young people are ineligible to serve in the armed forces, often because they cannot meet basic military weight and fitness standards,” Udall said.
In a statement supporting the bill, Ed Foster-Simeon, a board member for the Campaign to End Obesity, said, “The shortage of safe playing spaces is a major barrier many communities have to overcome to provide children with opportunities to participate in organized sports and other physical activity.”