The U.S. Military recently recruited the talents of Tony Horton, the creator of P90X, in order to confront increasing obesity among our fighting men and women. The growing obesity problem in the United States has become a national security issue. While the nation stands in the midst of a global “war on terror,” America finds itself too fat to fight.
In 2008 only the state of Colorado had an adult obesity rate below 20%. Of the 49 states with adult obesity above 20% thirty-two were above 25% and six were above 30%. These statistics translate into the startling assessment that one in five Americans age 18-34 is obese. In addition, 27 percent of 18 to 24 year olds are too overweight to join the military.
This disturbing trend has had a predictable impact on the military where the obesity rate has doubled since 2003. According to the January 2009 edition of the DoD’s Medial Surveillance Monthly Report the number of troops diagnosed as overweight or obese is twice what is was at the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Tony Horton has suggested the military include yoga in traditional fitness training. Horton stated that “the days of pushups, sit ups, and long runs in the military are over.” Instead of the usual routine that most soldiers have grown too accustomed to over the years, Horton has suggested yoga because of its ability to lubricate joints and utilize push up or other postures which magnify strength exercises.
The military should be commended for taking proactive steps to address obesity within the ranks and insulate the force from the growing disease of obesity. However, more drastic measures may be required. The disturbing statistics demonstrate that the routine morning PT consisting often of hundreds of “side-straddle hops,” and “release runs” is not keeping soldiers in shape. Too often the military has adhered to the strict rule that physical training must be on a field and in a group. Many a young military officer will tell you about trips to the gym after PT or after the work day to maintain the level of fitness their rank requires. The obesity problem and Horton’s statements suggest that physical training must be tailored to keep soldiers fit and lean, instead of focusing on an arbitrary test of the number of pushups or sit ups that can be completed in a two-minute period.
Unless the military changes its thinking we will find ourselves booby-trapped by our own gluttony.
Posted on 25 Jul 2010