The American obesity epidemic has hit the front lines. A report from a group called "Mission Readiness" says 25% of young Americans are Too Fat To Fight.
"Even if they wanted to serve in the U.S. Military services, they will not be able to do that, because they are not qualified on the basis of obesity," says James Loy, Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard (retired)
The group - made up of more than 100 retired generals and admirals- warned of the problem two years-ago and now say the problem hasn't improved in a new report titled "Still Too Fat to Fight."
And they want to start with kids.
"Getting junk food out of schools is critically important to making sure America's childhood obesity crisis doesn't become a more serious, national security crisis," says former head of Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard B. Meyers.
The writers of the report want to see more school cafeterias operate like this one Washington, D.C. School officials have tossed out vending machines in favor of healthier food
Military leaders say the problem is reversible if healthier food choices are combined with more physical fitness in schools.
"I definitely want to see our students become more fit and eat healthier, so that they will be able to stay leaner in their childhood and as they move into adulthood," says Diana Bruce, director of health and wellness in D.C. public schools.
The report says hundreds of recruits are annually discharged from the military because they are too heavy. Training those unfit recruits - and finding their replacements - costs taxpayers an extra $60 million every year.
Recruits can get a special waiver for being overweight, but must attend a military weight loss program before basic training. These recruits often gain back the weight and are discharged.