U.S. Military Announces Major Nutrition Standards Upgrade

This is the inaugural post on my new health policy blog. I’m glad it’s about a positive development.  Whenever there’s a meaningful, health-affirming policy decision by any group in the public or private sector, it deserves to be celebrated. Particularly when it has the potential to help so many people, as is the case with this decision by the military.

From an Associated Press wire story in the Washington Post:

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…

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.

Under the Military Health System’s new obesity and nutrition awareness campaign, more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lower-fat entrées will be coming to the 1,100 service member dining halls in coming months. Healthier choices will be turning up in base schools, vending machines and snack bars, too.