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Too Fat To Fight

A cover story in the Post & Courier yesterday of the same title addressed the impact of our country’s obesity epidemic on the military.

The article really got my attention and provoked some deeper thoughts on this problem could impact our future.

While many people take the attitude of “it’s not my problem” when they read about obesity issues, I’ve got news for you…if you’re an American it’s most certainly “our” problem as a nation!

I tip my hat to Schuyler Kropf for doing an excellent job with this story. Here’s a little bit of the article.

A recent report on America’s defense readiness say the nation’s obesity epidemic is threatening the country’s military future, with easy access to junk food and a sedentary lifestyle among the worst culprits. “Today otherwise excellent recruit prospects, some of them with generations of sterling military service in their family history, are being turned away because they are just too overweight,” according to the report by the advocacy group called Mission: Readiness, Military Leaders for Kids.

The group made up of several hundred retired military leaders, wants junk food removed from schools, healthier cafeteria meals and more dedication to cutting obesity, starting in elementary schools grades. If something isn’t done, the group warns, then future needs of military personnel in the air, on land, and at sea could go unfilled.

My thoughts…

I couldn’t agree more with their recommendations and the warning that we should all be concerned. It would be a big mistake for us to live with the false security that just because we have the most “technologically advanced” military in the world we have nothing to worry about.

The strength of our nation lies with the people and not the weaponry we use to defend ourselves.

My grandfather was a veteran of WWII serving in the 4th Armored division, part of Patton’s Third Army that helped liberate Europe and defeat Nazi Germany. While he was still living I was proud to be able to accompany him at a veterans convention held in Myrtle Beach.

It just so happened the first day of the convention fell on September 11th, 2001. All of us remember where we were at that infamous day when we heard the news of the terrorist’s attacks. The events of that day and the reaction of these WWII veterans in the midst of tragedy will be forever burned into my memory.

These men were all well into their eighties and they were ready to pack their gear and head out without a moments notice to once again to defend our country. And you know what, I would have followed them.


This generation has been called one of the greatest generations our country has seen and you’ll get no arguments from me. The reason I’m sharing that story with you is because it made me stop and think about what’s really different today. 

Obesity wasn’t an epidemic in this country when they were growing up. The military didn’t have to turn down a large percentage of the population when these young men were called to serve their country in the draft.

The question is why? What’s really different…what in the world is going on with us?

Now I’m not going to get on a rant about video games, pop culture, fast food and all the modern day issues that obviously have a hand in our obesity epidemic. It’s easy to point your finger at these things like they’re solely to blame. I think most of us know in our hearts it’s just not that simple.

Things have changed in our country and with all our “advancements” I’m not so sure they’ve really changed that much for the better.

What is it exactly that really separates my grandfather’s generation with today’s generation? What’s really changed in our country?

I think if we’re ever going to start reversing the obesity epidemic we have to look deeper than just the surface issues of what’s causing our youths to be overweight.

What’s happening “big picture” in our society that’s contributing to this?

Are we losing things like our work ethic and personal responsibility? And if so why?

I simply ask you to think deeper on what’s really going on to cause this problem in our nation. I really do believe we’ll all need to contribute and help be part of the solution if real change is ever going to occur. I love this country and hate to see us continue heading in the wrong direction.

Maybe you think I’m drawing too much into our obesity problem. But I ask you to simply consider what will happen if the current trends continue at such an alarming rate.

Something to think about…

The percentage of youths ages 18-24 in South Carolina who are considered overweight or obese currently stands at about 48%. This is up 31 percent in just the last 10 years!

What in the world will happen to us as a society if this goes up say another 30% in the next decade? Can you imagine the socio-economic impacts of having 60-80% of our next generation being overweight or obese?

If you don’t think obesity will be a cost for everyone in this country due to the related health care impacts you’re living in fantasy land…

And I don’t know about you but I don’t think I’ll be overly confident in the future with the military being able to defend us in times of dire needs if we have 60-80% of the (draft eligible) population being too “fat to fight.”

I’ve heard people say, “there’s nothing to worry about, there will never be a draft again and in the future we’ll be able to get by with an increasingly smaller military.” Oh yeah, really? Are you that certain of this?

I doubt there were that many young American’s in my grandfather’s generation who really thought they’d be called upon to go to war for their country. But thankfully for us there were enough “able bodied” men and women to answer their call of duty when it came.

Will the same be true for this and future generations if they’re called upon to defend our country in a major war?

God willing we won’t have to find out. I just hope we find a way to turn things around so if things ever got bad again we could have the strength and resolve as a nation to once again overcome.

Everyone’s quality of life and security ultimately depends on it.

Let me know your thoughts on this…. I’d love to hear what you think.

Shane Doll is a certified Charleston personal trainer, fat loss expert, speaker, and founder of Shaping Concepts Personal Training Studios. Learn more about how you can receive a FREE no-obligations trial of his Charleston personal training programs by clicking the link above.


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Category: Shane's Commentary.