First Lady Michelle Obama Launches Campaign to Battle Obesity in the Military

By: Justin Chan

Obesity isn't just a health issue that has plagued children. Last week, First Lady Michelle Obama noted that it has also become a health risk and even a national security hazard among members of the military. In addition to her effort to provide healthier lunch for kids, Obama wants to take part in overhauling the military's food services.

According to Reuters, Obama announced a new nutritional awareness campaign to battle obesity that will change the nutrition standards for the first time in 20 years.

"The military is always taking the lead in terms of setting standards," said Jonathan Woodson, Assistant U.S. Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs. "Now we have an opportunity to take leadership ... as we face this epidemic of obesity."

The decision comes following a recent study that revealed that more than a quarter of teenagers and adults between the ages of 17 and 24 are too overweight to serve in the military. Active members in the military are also increasingly gaining more weight. In order to reduce obesity, the new campaign will bring make more fruits, vegetables and low-fat food available to approximately 1.45 million troops daily.

"This isn't just a drop in the bucket - this is really a big splash," she said. "It's happening because our military leaders know it's not just a diet issue, it's not just a health issue. This is truly a national security issue."

Woodson said the military spends about $4.65 billion in food services annually. Around $1.1 billion is spent on medical care related to fighting excess weight and obesity. To encourage members of the military to eat healthier, the military will change the menus and offer healthier foods in mess halls and vending machines.

"Simply put, this is America's entire military once again stepping forward to lead by example," Obama told a group of airmen at the Little Rock Air Force Base.

Photo: United States Marine Corps Official Page

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