Weighing Down Our Military

Sean Brown Jr,

Article Summary

In this article written by Rhonda Cornum and James Shane. This article comes from US news.com and was published on April 5th 2016. In this article both of the authors are retired generals with the US Army. The article discusses how the current obesity rate in the United States is threatening the security of our nation because more and more people are becoming "unfit" to serve in the military. One of the main points in the article was that 1/3 of people between the ages of 17-24 are not qualified to serve because of being overweight. The article then goes on to discuss that one of the solutions to this growing problem is making sure that children are eating more health especially in the context of schools. The article states. how more than 98% of schools across the nation have met the standards of serving more vegetables, fruits, whole grains and less salts, fats, and sugars. The article then goes on to explain some of the legislation that has been passed regarding helping schools meet the changing demand while still maintaining the nutrition guidelines. The final points of this article are in regards to the military, the problems with weight it faces and what it has done to promote healthy behaviors. The article states, "Active duty forces have experienced a 61 percent rise in obesity since 2002."(Cornum, Shane) The article then goes on to talk about how the military spends over a billion dollars annually to combat obesity related problems within the armed forces. The article then goes on to speak on what the military is doing to promote healthy behavior such as the "Go Green" initiative which labels foods as "high performance" or "Performance limiting" as well as giving more healthy options in the mess lines. The article ends with a call for collaboration between school, parents, communities, and law makers to help educate children on the importance of health choices.

Article Critique

General Rhonda Cornum is a retired military general with a Ph.D in biochemistry and nutrition from Cornell university and a MD from the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences. She previously served as the Director of the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program. General James E Shane is a retired general and is the former deputy commanding general of the Army Recruiting Command. I would say that the two authors are qualified to speak on the topic of how obesity is impacting the military. Especially because of their rank in the military as well as their respective positions in the field. usnews.com sponsored the writing of the article. This article is well constructed with statistics and possible solutions. However, the faults that i see in it are more of geared towards satisfying a political agenda. The article specifically spoke on different legislation that is being created to promote childhood health in schools. The authors even went on to discuss some of the details of the legislation that was passed. This is where I believe the authors become less qualified to speak on the matter. They even admittedly spoke to their knowledge by saying, " Neither one of us has run a school lunch program, so our knowledge of these details might surprise some people" (Cornum, Shane).The article in my opinion is speaking on two separate issues. One of them being the the obesity rate in the United States and it's impact on qualified military personnel and the other being the schools role in providing healthy food options for children. However, I do see some relation in that, by having the younger generation that is more healthy can help fix the problem in the future. With that being said I do not think that this article was the best way to convey both messages. It came off as using a threat of national security to scare people into supporting a political agenda.

The information that is of question is what the actual legislation entails and what improvements do they want to see made. The only thing that the article states is. " We urge the full Senate to pass the Improve Child Nutrition Integrity and Access Act. We also urge the House of Representatives to support a similar compromise upholding the science-based nutrition standards as it considers its own bill on child nutrition". (Cornum, Shane) It goes into no detail about what specifics they want changed or what the existing legislation already has. The best place to find this information is on congresses website about bills that are in discussion.

All in all, I do agree that the conclusion made by the authors is valid, "Six weeks of basic training cannot undo a lifetime of bad habits for young men and women who want to serve our nation right now". (Cornum, Shane). By creating a healthier youth the hope is that in the future they will grow up to be healthy individuals that can be qualified to serve in the armed forces.


Cornum, Rhonda, MD. PH.D, and James Shane. "Weighing Down Our Military."Usnews.com. 5 Apr. 2016. Web. 5 Apr. 2016. <http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/policy-dose/articles/2016-04-05/obesity-is-a-national-security-threat>.