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"Increasing Obesity & Lack of PE Standards Affecting Military Readiness" - Ret. Lieutenant General Hertling

"Increasing Obesity & Lack of PE Standards Affecting Military Readiness" - Ret. Lieutenant General Hertling

SILVER SPRING, MD – March 21, 2013 – In an exclusive interview with PHIT America on March 11, Ret. Lieutenant General Mark Hertling (Commander of the U.S. Army in Europe from 2011-2013) said one of the biggest threat to our country’s long-term safety is the ever-expanding waistlines of young civilians who want to become Soldiers.Hertling

Hertling stated that this country’s issue with obesity, which has been growing since the late 1990s, is enhanced by the emergence of ‘super sizing’ of meals, high doses of fructose in our food, hours spent in front of the TV and computer screens (the average 16 year old is spending 7-8 hours a day behind a stationary screen), and not enough exercise. “We need some radical change in family behavior and leadership by parents,” said Hertling, acknowledging that sedentary lifestyles are a big cause of obesity with all Americans. “Getting daily P.E. in schools and changing our diet would be the best way to turn around the growing rates in obesity.”

Hertling cited the additional medical expenses required for unprepared and out-of-shape soldiers, injured during basic training, Mission Readinessbecause their bodies are not used to the sudden surge of physical activity that is connected with basic training and getting ready for combat.  These injuries are costing the Army roughly $100,000 to $300,000 per soldier to heal.  And in some cases, the soldiers have not recovered from the injuries and have had to be dismissed from the Army.

“These injuries to soldiers were caused by a lack of daily P.E. in their earlier lives and increasingly inadequate nutrition, which contribute to brittle bones”, stated Hertling. 

Hertling says obesity and related cardiovascular issues such as type I and II diabetes will reach pandemic proportions by 2030 if something is not done now in terms of the approach to nutrition and daily physical activity. 

He says by 2030 it is predicted that one in three people in the U.S. may suffer from some form of diabetes, “if we don’t start trying to turn it around.”  The General also noted the exponential rise in health care costs for those entering the service with predisposition to various maladies linked to obesity.

“PHIT America’s daily message of promoting a physically active lifestyle has never been more relevant than it is now,” said PHIT America Founder Jim Baugh.  “It’s frightening to realize that the future of our national security may be at risk because a lack of overall national fitness.  But that can begin to change if we make a concerted effort to get this country active, which is why PHIT America is so supportive of the PEP Program and PHIT Act legislation in Washington, D.C. We want every American who visits PHITAmerica.org to click on Advocate and send their Members of Congress an email supporting PEP and PHIT.”

Mission: Readiness, a national security organization of 350 retired generals and admirals, recently released a report, Still Too Fat to Fight, highlighting that being overweight or obese is the leading medical reason why young adults cannot join the military, with 1 in 4 too overweight to enlist. The report also noted that the military's TRICARE health insurance system spends well over $1 billion a year on treating weight-related diseases.

Hertling, who is a member of Mission: Readiness, added that the impact of obesity on our economy, if it continues to grow at current levels, will also affect funding for national security, as defense budgets will continue to focus on treating those with diseases, maladies and illnesses associated with obesity.  If this obesity epidemic continues, we will soon be spending a significantly larger portion of our DOD budget and our GDP on health care issues.

Hertling added that this obesity issue is equivalent to what the U.S. went through with smoking in the 1970s and 1980s.  “It will take a long time until we finally realize that some of the things we are eating and not doing are literally killing us,” stated Hertling.  

Back in the mid-1990s, public schools started cutting PE from their curriculum in order to save costs.  Now, today’s military recruits are the first generation of recruits who attended school without a regular PE class.

PHIT America -- an educational, advocacy and social media marketing campaign -- is designed to reach millions of Americans and create a Movement for a Fit and Healthy America. PHIT America will combat the obesity and sedentary activity crisis -- which is having an adverse effect on health care costs in the U.S. -- by promoting new legislation and grassroots programs that will help get Americans more active, playing more sports, getting fit and becoming healthier.

One of the unique features of PHITAmerica.org is the Participation Database, which offers ways to become active and fit in more than 50 different sports or fitness activities.  

PHIT America 8505 Fenton Street, Suite 211, Silver Spring, MD 20910

 

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