WASHINGTON — Hold the mystery meat: Military bases will soon be serving more fruits, vegetables and low-fat dishes under the first program in 20 years to improve nutrition standards across the armed services.
First lady Michelle Obama and Pentagon officials planned to announce the effort Thursday during a visit to Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas, where the military has been experimenting with the idea through a pilot program designed to improve the quality and variety of foods served on base.
It’s not just about giving members of the armed services a more svelte profile.
“The Department of Defense considers obesity not only a national problem, but a national security issue,” said Dr. Jonathan Woodson, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs. “About a quarter of entry-level candidates are too overweight to actually either enter the military or sustain themselves through the first enlistment.”
The Pentagon spends an estimated $4.5 billion a year on food services, and $1.1 billion a year on medical care related to excess weight and obesity.