January 23, 2009 - Junk Food Nation

In the 1950’s, school lunch programs became a national priority - too many draftees in the 1940’s washed out because they were under weight and malnourished. The Great Depression limited the quantity of nutritious food to many growing children, and was countered by federal subsidies to school lunch programs. Food commodity distribution became big business, and nutrition slowly dropped by the wayside under pressure from industry.

According to tonight’s NBC Evening News, Army volunteers are now washing out because they are out of shape and overweight – under-exercised couch potatoes malnourished on an American diet of high fat treats and over processed junk food. The food commodity programs haven’t helped either, providing too many high fat/high starch products and limited access to fresh vegetables. Basic training has been redesigned to provide "remedial PE" for recruits who don't even know how to run properly, and the mess hall menu revamped to support weight loss.

Any bets on how this will shape the next round of USDA commodity policies and food programs from the new administration? How about changes in Dept. of Education requirements for PE programs, maybe to require a more literal, physical interpretation of "no child left behind?" Wish I could believe the federal government will bow out and let us/expect us to take responsibility for our own diet and exercise, but I suspect not.