A sunny early evening, out for a walk to wind down after a desk day. I hadn’t been out long when my mobile phone rang. Forgot to turn it off. A consultant friend in the communications business calling.
“Hello,” I chirped and we clipped through the usual how are you, what’s been going ons.
“So,” I asked. “What’s the focus of your work at this point?”
“Obesity,” she replied. “Particularly as it affects military readiness.”
“Seriously? Why would you and your firm be involved in that?”
“25 years ago, 12% of the population was considered obese. 10 years from now, 13 states, mostly in the Southeast, could have obesity rates in excess of 60%. The LOWEST level projected is 44.8% in Colorado. The percentage of the population that is morbidly obese has doubled since the year 2000. Another study suggests 83 percent of men and 72% of women will be overweight or obese by 2020. The military spends $1 billion a year for medical care of weight-related health problems.”
My head was spinning. “I’m having a hard time getting my arms around all that.”
“Ho, ho, everybody’s a comedian,” she sighed. “Look, I’ll make this simple: If we have to draft people for the military in 10 years, we’ll be too fat to fight.” **
As many and as troubling as those statistics are – 25, 12%, 13, 66%, 44.8%, 25%, 45%, 50%, 83%, 72%, likely I won’t remember them. However, “Too fat to fight”, I can remember. It’s a starting point to recall the reasons the statistics are important and to develop a point of view.
**Turns out, she borrowed this phrase from the title of a 2012 report from the advocacy group, “MissionReadiness”, that is focused on, among other things, childhood obesity and reducing junk food sold in schools.
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