WASHINGTON—A new report says that American childhood obesity is threatening national security.
A group of retired generals and admirals presented the report Tuesday in Washington, D.C.
The headline: nearly one-third of Americans between the ages of 17 and 24 are too fat to join the military.
The report blames school menus
The group of retired military leaders says it's a growing national security problem.
"Our report shows that more than 9 million young adults are too overweight to join the military -- that's 27 percent of all young adults in this country," said retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Norman Seip.
"In fact, it has been shown that for the first time in our history the health of children today is worse than that of their parents," said retired U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Clara Adams-Ender.
The report blames school menus bloated with junk food.
"What children eat and drink during school hours can constitute up to 40 percent of their daily nutrient intake," said retired U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Jamie Barnett.
President Obama's administration is pushing for healthy school breakfast and lunch programs with a price tag of $1 billion.
"Our youngsters -- 31 million of them -- have got to be fed better. Otherwise, they're not going to perform as well in school; it's going to be a health care problem in the future and as the generals and admirals will indicate, it's also a national security concern," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
But are schools the problem?
"The fault can't be, can't be levied to one person or one source," said one man.
"It's a combination of things: parents, kids," said another man.
"I think it's societal," said one woman.
"I say society," said another.
The retired military leaders say the solution is as easy as 1-2-3: Get junk food out of the schools, increase funding and get schools to do what they do best -- teach.
During World War II, large numbers of young men didn't make the cut. Back then, it was because they weren't getting enough to eat.