Obesity posing threat to national security

Ryan Brown’s recent article on the transportation funding debate in Harrisburg mentioned that there is a “broader-than-usual range of supporters” for a comprehensive solution that would adequately fund all modes of transportation in the Commonwealth.

I would like to point out that this diverse support includes the retired generals and admirals of the national security nonprofit mission: readiness.

Why are generals and admirals interested in Pennsylvania’s transportation funding debate?

The short answer is obesity prevention. Obesity is a threat to future national security. Being overweight or obese is one of the leading reasons why 75 percent of our nation’s 17 to 24-year-olds are not eligible for military service.

Contributing to our country’s obesity epidemic is the fact that nearly 50 percent of U.S. adults and 65 percent of adolescents do not currently get the recommended amount of physical activity each day.

To compound the problem, our communities are frequently disconnected without safe walking and biking routes between recreational facilities, schools, residential neighborhoods and commercial corridors.

Communities that have implemented projects that make biking and walking safer and more accessible have seen increases in physical activity and decreases in obesity rates.

This is why Mission Readiness is joining groups like the American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association and the American Cancer Society in calling for the inclusion of a first-ever dedicated state investment in “active modes” (bicycle and pedestrian) of transportation as part of the Governor’s proposed multi-modal fund.

Such an investment will better connect our communities, improve public health and ensure future national security.

Lt. Gen. Dennis L. Benchoff, US Army (Ret.)