Tag: obesity

“Too Fat to Fight”

Mission: Readiness, a collection of retired generals, admirals and other senior military officers issued their latest report this week and the accompanying press release should draw the attention of IR scholars interested in the Copenhagen School and securitization: “Childhood Obesity Endangers National Security.” The news was particularly bad for my state:

…obesity rates among children and young adults in Kentucky are significantly higher than the national average. Weight problems have become the leading medical reason why young adults are unable to serve in the military, both in Kentucky and nationwide…

“Today, in Kentucky and across the country, otherwise excellent recruit prospects are being turned away because they are simply too overweight,” Major General [D. Allen] Youngman said.

The Louisville Courier-Journal summarized the report’s bad news for local readers:

The report says that 51 percent of young adults in Kentucky were overweight or obese in 2007-09, up from 38 percent in 1997-99. Indiana’s rates, meanwhile, rose from 37 percent in 1997-99 to 40 percent in 2007-09.

Nationally, the report found that about one in four 17- to 24-year-olds is too fat to serve in the military….

“As we look to the future, military defense will remain an important issue for our country. We are confident we’ll have the tanks and ships.…What we’re really concerned about is who will be able to join the military,” said retired Army General D. Allen Youngman of Bowling Green. “In Kentucky, we are worse off than elsewhere.”

Obviously, there are many good reasons to be concerned about childhood nutrition and obesity — particularly given high rates of childhood poverty and hunger as well. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act is probably desirable policy. However, I do wonder about the need to sell the policy by framing it as a national security issue. Even a human security frame would be preferable, but that’s not likely a persuasive message in the US.

Where does US militarism end?

Given this ranking and this data, I’m expecting the new school superintendent in Louisville to be a Dean Wormer disciple.

Note: the title of this post comes from the original report issued by Mission: Readiness.

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Is drumming good for your health?

The BBC reports on a new study finding that drummers are “top athletes” (also available on video):

Burke was connected to equipment to measure his heart rate and oxygen uptake, and the levels of lactic acid in his blood.

He found that during a performance, his heart averaged between 140 and 150 beats a minute, peaking at 190, levels comparable to other top athletes.

However, Dr Smith said that while top footballers were expected to perform once or twice a week, drummers on tour would be doing it every night at a different venue.

Drummers burn 4-600 calories per hour

He said: “Footballers can normally expect to play 40 to 50 games a year – but in one 12 month period, Clem played 90-minute sets at 100 concerts.

“Footballer find playing a Champions League game once every two weeks a drain, but these guys are doing it every day when they are on tour.

“It is clear that their fitness levels need to be outstanding – through monitoring Clem’s performance in controlled conditions, we have been able to map the extraordinary stamina required by professional drummers.”

For those of you who are wondering “why would anyone finance this study,” the article supplies at least one reason:

It is hoped that the results could help develop outreach programmes for overweight children who are not interested in sport.

But while such programs might combat obesity, I’m skeptical about their efficacy. Drumming brings with it a variety of risk factors for premature death, as discussed in this well-known documentary:



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