Friday, March 6, 2009

Too unfit to serve

As declaring war on terrorists was vital to Americans' safety, no less a war is called for to battle the nation's health-care crisis.

Health-care spending is soaring toward $3 trillion a year, much of it sheer waste.

Moreover, a vast amount of that staggering expense is spent on treatment, whereas more effective preventive health programs would surely lead to sharp cuts in the costs of dealing with disease after the fact.

Though Americans live longer, the sad fact is that two out of every three are overweight, one in 10 have diabetes and 25 percent of those between 45 and 54 years old suffer from hypertension. Nearly 16 percent of Americans have no health insurance and thus often forfeit treatment.

Perhaps one of the most shameful indices of the state of American health comes from the military.

According to Pentagon statistics, of the 32 million young people in the recruiting age group of 17 to 24, the vast majority are unfit for service, many of them because of obesity. If a nation cannot rely on young people as a pool for duty during an armed emergency, then health fitness indeed becomes a national security matter.

President Obama has declared that the nation's unattended health reform is front and center on his agenda. Americans concerned with the literal and figurative health of their nation must get behind the president in this urgent task.

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