1 May 2010

Too fat to fight: US ex-generals sound warning

6:00 pm on 1 May 2010

Two retired American generals have warned that soaring rates of obesity pose a threat to US national security, because many potential recruits are too overweight to serve in the armed forces.

John Shalikashvili and Hugh Shelton say obesity disqualifies more potential recruits than any other medical issue, with more than a quarter of young Americans now too fat to fight.

Writing in the Washington Post, the pair - both former chairmen of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff - urge Congress to introduce laws to give US children better nutrition in schools, with less sugar, salt and fat.

"We consider this problem so serious from a national security perspective," they say,"that we have joined more than 130 other retired generals, admirals and senior military leaders in calling on Congress to pass new child nutrition legislation."

Obesity rates in the US have surged over the last year, according to one report, the BBC reports. The Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found adult obesity rates rose in 23 of the 50 states but fell in none.