Obesity is a National Security Issue: Lieutenant General Mark Hertling at TEDxMidAtlantic 2012


Translator: Emma Gon
Reviewer: Cathrine Ulstrand Hello, my name’s Hertling and I’m a soldier and — you probably could tell that. I’ve been in the military for 38 years. I’m thinking of making it a career. I have seen — (Laughter) — I have seen and studied and analysed all types of security threats. I’ve fought in several wars but there’s an emerging threat
that we’re seeing and I’d like to talk a little bit
about today that I think will have an effect
on our future, our economy, our youth and our economic system. It is an emerging threat that concerns me significantly and it’s represented in this picture. Now you might think, why is a soldier talking about a young man who is obviously inactive and perhaps is a little bit overweight? And it’s because of some things I’ve seen in the last several years and I’d like to talk a little bit about those today and related to how I believe it could be a national security threat within the next 20 to 30 years. First of all, in 1983, the Army sent me on something called a broadening experience. I was asked to go graduate school at Indiana University. I had studied as an undergraduate
in International Relations but they said, “Hey we want you to go and get a Master’s degree
in Exercise Physiology and then teach PE at West Point.” So I said, “Okay, sounds like a great idea. It’s broadening to be sure.” And I went out there — (Laugther) — I went to Indiana University and my first class was an anatomy class and I had an anatomy lab. I walked into the classroom and they issued me a cadaver. As they did everyone else in the class. And the cadaver I had,
came with a medical history The professor told us,
“In order to respect the people who have given
their bodies to science we’d ask you to respect them,
too, and you perhaps wanna name them to remind yourself that they were once a person although we don’t wanna give you
their real name.” So I named mine Charlie. Charlie had a medical history. He had been a two-pack-a-day smoker. Charlie had not exercised in the last 20 years. Charlie was extremely overweight and Charlie had died of a cardiovascular disease and he was 46 years old. When we pulled him up and we began, the various students in the room began our disection of these bodies I had a lot of a tougher time than some of the other students because I had to cut through several layers of adipose. When I got to the internal body cavities it was amazing to me comparing Charlie’s organs to some of the organs of
the other students in the class. The heart was surrounded by fat several inches. One of the tricks our instructors taught us was, you know, we had to through these labs where we had to name what vein was which and what artery was which, and the professor said, “If you pull on an artery, it’s like a rubber band. If you pull on a vein, it’s like
a guitar string and it’ll twang.” When I pulled on Charlie’s arteries and veins they broke off into my hand. So I finished grad school and went to teach at West Point for 3 years from ’83 to ’86 and then after that assignment I went back to the operational Army and did things that all soldiers do: commanded organizations, trained, went into combat several times, and then coming out of combat as a Division Commander in 2009 the Army decided they wanted to promote me to three-star General I think because they wanted to prove they have a sense of humor. They then sent me to be the Commander of Initial Military Training. My job was to train
the 160,000 or so soldiers or correction: civilians, that would come into the Army every year and turn them into soldiers. What I found when I reported to that assignment disturbed me. Several facts came to my attention. First of all, 75% or more a little bit more actually of the civilians who wanted to join the Army were not qualified to do so. 75% of the 17-24 year olds
who wanted to join the Army were not qualified and the number one reason was because they were obese. Of the 25% that could join the Army what we found on the first day of basic training was that about 60% of them could not pass the PT test that we gave on the first day. And that was:
one minute of push-ups, one minute of sit-ups and
a one-mile run. Now, that’s not a difficult test. But we were finding that a great majority of our new soldiers coming off the civilian environment, could not pass that test. I couldn’t understand what had happened. This was not what I had left studying physical education in 1986. As we did some analyses I realized that a couple of things had changed. First of all, number one
and the primary reason was starting in the late ’90s the majority of our elementary
and high schools stopped teaching PE, and in fact, only five states of the 50 of our country right now have mandatory requirements
for physical education between K and 12th grade today. Five out of 50. Now, you say,
“Okay, well that’s interesting, but what does the Army care about that?” Well, we’re getting the product of that but in addition to second and third order effects were young people that were joining our service could not run, dodge, jump, tumble, roll the kinds of things you expect soldiers to do if they’re in combat. The second thing we found or that I found or realized was that our diet had changed radically in the last 15 years. We were supersizing everything. Having been stationed overseas in Germany, that’s not the case there, but they were supersizing — if you want a large fries you can get extra large
and extra-extra large. You couldn’t just get a 16 oz drink, you could get a 24, 42, 64 oz soda. And that was having a deleterious effect. It was fascinating to me that we were also seeing, a scientist told me, that in the last 15 years from the time I left West Point until today Americans eat about 30% more calories a day than they had in 1983 and about 15 lbs more of sugar a year. Phenomenal statistics. But the combination
of a lack of physical education and an increase of poor nutrition was causing secondary effects. This is the “O” food group, by the way. I started calling it the “O” food group because anything that ends in an “O” is probably not good for you. (Laugther) I haven’t found anything
that ended in “O” yet that was actually very nutritious in nature. But what we started to do was we saw some second and third order effects and this is one of them this is at one of our training bases and we have five in the United States Army. We were seeing a malady called femoral neck stress injuries, and what that means is that the tip of the pelvis would crack and it wouldn’t be a clean break but it would be a stress fracture that would cause significant problems and you can see starting in 2000
that we were beginning to see this and this is because the people
we were recruiting were just coming of age and many of them had not had PE and they had started to have the bad nutrition. But by 2009 when our new recruits were 18 or 19 years old they had gone through their entire life without having a PE class
and dependent on bad nutrition. Those 135 that we had at one training base are significant injuries because in order to fix it it costs anywhere between
USD 100,000 and USD 300,000. So this is an economic issue. This isn’t just a soldier health issue. For me this was an economic issue. The third reason, and I’ll say this then move quickly on. The third reason we saw was an increase in technology. Now, I’m a big fan of technology, but the researchers had told me that we now watch as a nation about 150 hours of television a month. That’s five hours a day. In 2009, when we started this study we were seeing anywhere
from 30 to 40 on average hours of internet searches by adult male Americans per month. That’s between one and two hours a day. Gaming was off the charts. In 2009, and it’s increased since then the average teenager was playing thirteen hours of video games per week. Now all those hours in front of a tube were replacing the play time and that’s significant. In addition to that, the final one, number four: We’re terrible examples to our children. We’re in too much of a rush. We’re eating poorly we’re eating fast foods we’re relaxing in front of the television
at the end of the day. We also are relying on technology instead of play and we’re not balancing our lives. My wife has a stitchery in our house as we’ve raised two children and now a couple of grandchildren that says, “Your children are watching you.” What you do speaks louder
than anything you can say. We were not doing the right things
for our children. So in typical army fashion I said, “We’ve got to address
these issues with our new recruits.” And we changed several things. We began something we called the Soldier Athlete Initiative because you can’t just say
to a bunch of 18 year olds, “We’re going to get you all in shape and stop feeding you cheeseburgers.” You have to give kind of a sexy title to it so we called it Soldier Athlete Initiative. If you’re going to perform on the battle field, you have got to train like a champion. And what we did was,
we completely changed well, it’s a three-legged stool we completely changed the way
we were training to compensate for things
that were not going on in grade school and high school. We assigned physical terapists and athletic trainers
to every organization because we wanted
to prevent the injuries and treat them before they turned into those USD 100,000 bone stress fractures. We wanted to fix them
as they became visible. And then the third thing
and probably the most important was we changed the way
we feed food in the mess halls the dining facilities. We called it “Fueling the Soldier.” You can’t just say,
“Hey, have a salad.” We instead say — (Laugther) — you’ve got to advertise with soldiers so we said,
“Hey, we’re going to fuel you for maximum performance.” This is what sports teams are doing. This is what NFL, major league baseball they know they’ve got to eat right in order to perform at their maximum. Okay, I’m not going to dwell… Within the first year, we saw some unbelievably strong statistics that shows this was working: reduction in injuries, we saved about USD 30 million the first year just in treatment of injuries. 30 million in the army. Just on injury prevention And we began to see weight loss and improved… or we reduced
the number of overweight soldiers we have in the Army. We still have a way to go. We’ve advanced this “Fueling the Soldier” to “Fueling the Teams” and in fact we’ve redirected to the Department of Defense Schools for our young people
and we’re calling it “Fueling the future.” So we fixed it!
Or we’re on our way to fix it. What’s interesting about this is your Army combined with your Navy,
your Marine Corps you Air Force and your Coast Guard makes up less than 1%
of the American population. So my concern is: What’s going on with the other 99%? And this gets me back to my issue of this being a national security concern. I’m going to show you one area and that’s just levels of obesity. This was a chart that represents the number of states in the Union that were below 20% obesity rates on average from a child of 14 to 19 years old. This was in 1985. Watch what happens. As you can see in 2009, it’s significantly worse. The predictions for 2030 are these: You can see the number of states that have greater than 65% children obese. This is not overweight, this is obese. Now, the related issues that I told you the issue with our injury rates and how much we were paying to fix people is significant. We spend estimated the Department of Health and Education both determined that we spend on average today between
USD 150 to USD 200 billion per year treating the results of childhood obesity. We’re seeing an increase in diabetes. We estimate that we will have a 40% cardiovascular disease rate
by the year 2030. This is significant. This is a health care issue. An economic issue. A readiness issue for me because I’ve seen my pool of recruits deplete based on this. I can’t pull them in in order to fix them. And it’s just a competition issue. There’s other studies
that show what obesity and lack of activity do to young people. So I believe this is certainly a national security concern. There are several organizations
who are attempting to approach this. You may have heard of
Mayor Bloomberg in New York who has banned all sugary drinks above 16 oz in schools and public restaurants
in New York City and he took a lot of heat for that. Nike, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Subway are all using overweight actors in their adds to pattern behavior and perhaps to turn this thing around. Nickelodeon in last year’s
Worldwide Day of Play decided to put their screens black as opposed to showing programming in order to get children outside and play. And of course our First Lady over the last several years has been attempting to do “Let’s Move!” and the counter obesity measures. This concerns me. This concerns me greatly. Again as I said my name is Hertling,
I am a soldier. I’ve been a soldier for 38 years. This is not something the Army can fix. This is not something you can put
a yellow ribbon on and say, “Let somebody else take care of it”. This is not something that we can rely on governments or organizations to do. Be fearless in terms of writing your schools. Be fearless in trying to get nutrition back in restaurants. Be fearless in balancing your lives and getting out to exercise. Be fearless in modelling your behavior for young people. That will prevent a whole lot of Charlies in the future. Thank you very much. (Applause)

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Comments

  1. what's really so damn ironic is: if the government were to allocate even 1/4th of the government spending that the "defense" budget gets handed to them, to programs that make eating healthier far more affordable…this wouldn't even be an issue.

  2. I think having provided the taliban with training and weapons inthe 80's is more of a security issue for your country, MR General 😉

  3. I can't believe you guys got no pe at school anymore. In Germany we must take pe classes till the end in order to graduate.

  4. You Need A Civilian Military Training/Schooling System That Doesn't Require Currency Ohh Wait You Are Already There …..

  5. You want more young men available for the military, general?
    1. Abolish public school, give parents their kids' equal share of total district funds to use at the private school of their choice, with private schools allowed to wholly discriminate in whatever way they want in accepting applications.
    2. Abolish giving kids 60 vaccine doses by age 60 months.
    3. Abolish the modern dwarf and semi-dwarf varieties of wheat which have toxic proteins that cause obesity and other health problems.
    4. Abolish aspartame. Abolish Roundup. Abolish excitotoxins. Abolish pthalates and FRCs in consumer products. Especially abolish beef and pork growth hormones, because these cause premature puberty.
    5. Abolish cell towers and in-orbit cell towers.

  6. Let's stop with the excuses cuh
    We need better food in our school systems
    More physical education
    Better nutrition at home
    Daily walks or something to get the people off their asses
    And we need cheaper clean whole foods at grocery stores

    I want to see how many delusional obese people are going to try and play victim here and defend their habits and state of health against this video and my comment

  7. 4:28 The number one reason that unqualified recruits didnt pass is because they were obese?! Why do so many obese people sign up for the army? Surely you look at yourself in the mirror and go "don't bother". What am I missing here? Are people delusional en masse? Are obese people trying to get administrative jobs in the army which may also have an unexpected fitness requirement? Surely you read the general job requirements before applying though. Being unfit or overweight is one thing, but obesity is an extreme, something that would definitely make someone second guess their decision of joining the army. It's beyond me if what he's saying is true. Does anyone have a rational answer for this? Surely there's a sensible reason.

  8. People anymore are just weak and pathetic, and now all of that is rubbing off on the new generation and society is devolving into what might as well be a planet of sloths.

  9. In an effort to passify the populace from the dissenters of the 60's and 70's, the military government he serves has created this scenario through public educational shifts. Kids are growing up on pizza and chicken nuggets in school lunch programs, optional phys-ed and weak coursework with computers doing the thinking for both teacher and student.
    The result : soft minds and soft bodies= passive population.

  10. Blaming gaming is like blaming the car for killing someone while driving drunk.
    I play 4 hours every day, i've done so for the last 10 years.
    Here's my schedule devided into two days because i repeat this two day cycle on and on no excuses:
    Day1:
    wake up 04:30, drink double shot espresso and wash my face.
    05:00 i'm on my bike, ride for one hour.
    06:00 wake up wife and kid, have breakfast.
    06:30 shower, shave, brush teeth
    07:00 drive for kindergarden then work.
    16:30 home from work, play computer games until 18:00 hours
    18:00 play with kid, prepare kid for bed
    18:50 wife puts kid to bed while i take a shower.
    19:00 please the wife in every way possible for an hour
    20:00 log on and play games until 22:30 roughly

    My wife never complains, i'm fit, i'm having fun, i'm healthy.
    i'm 30 years old and i've been playing computer games all my life.

    The problem isn't gaming, it's mental focus, people do not have true goals in life, it's easy to blame the gaming but the gaming is just an easy escape from the fact that the economy is trashed, the housing market is trashed and the market for jobs for young people are trashed.

  11. it comes down to corporate greed. you feed junk food to children in school. that makes them habituated to such food. guess where this food comes from it comes from organizations like Dominoes

  12. But but…. I watched the top trending YouTube video which made me feel bad for thinking overweight people are unhealthy. I’m so confused, is being overweight unhealthy or a personal decision we should celebrate?

  13. Japanese scientists developed the high fructose corn syrup molecule as revenge for WWII. So subtle our defeat was. We ate it up with every meal.

  14. He's leaving out the important part which is army recruitment being so low that fatties are the only ones they get signing up. Takes a helluva lot more fitness to attack world tyrants than play sentry duty or press drone controls to kaboom ppl.

  15. Sounds like mandated welfare programs work…$30 million saved…imagine what we could do if we did this to the general population. Health & Welfare > Corporate Welfare

  16. They don’t have PE requirements in every state?? Is that what’s wrong with kids… they weren’t hardened up by the pacer test, fitness examinations, running the mile, etc?? 😂

  17. Great talk, we could all do a something a little different day to increase our activity and awareness. There is nothing wrong or bad about health and wellness and preventative medicine.

  18. How about we put regulations on food manufacturers? Did you know that canned vegetables have sugar in them? Seriously. We need to put a boot up their tales.

  19. I am not gonna lie, its true majority of gamer's are not fit. They just aren't that into exercise. But there are also those that can balance the two, which is good.

  20. This man is incredible. He has a great sense of humor and a clear sense of honor. He is what makes America great.

  21. I have two teenagers who would smoke Ol' General Hertling on the track. He must have been interviewing inner city kids.

  22. They should run after school sports programs, flag footbal etc…. to give the ppl Good Health and maybe they'll get some recruits out of it. But I do like the idea that more like Everyone does some kind of training rather than a few.

  23. Obesity is a great business model for those in charge, it is also a modern way of "natural selection". There has to be a point where you just look at yourself and know when enough is enough. I say this while having a grandad who has been between 110-130 kg for as long as i can remember (I'm 25). Sugar addiction + insulin resistance are huge killers. It's actually laughable how insulin is prescribed to diabetics… all it does is enable them to eat more sugar which promotes an even unhealthier relationship with food.

  24. pshh try 13 hours a day. I weigh 140 lbs and 0.8% bfp. I'd go hard on starcraft in 1997 for 20+ straight….
    Edit: Also Things that end in "O" can be healthy avocado.

  25. It's THE MILITARY that's a national issue! Monsanto and the Sovereign Military order of Malta! The military, which is 'foreign-controlled', is a front organized force for the God-playing elite, and so-called soldiers are falsely devoted through repetitive, life-long brainwashing that they are to protect freedoms, maintain peace, provide relief and support policy around the world when "freedom" and "peace" are false (as themes to orchestrated, staged wars), and the policy (look up the word 'policy' in connection with 'police' and 'politics') is actually to pave acceptance towards an announced world governance that holds no individual rights whatsoever and will be one of complete and absolute control. The military also holds underground ectogenous and genetic engineering programs where different types of people with different types of disorders are created, which is then designed to be hereditary through selected and altered genetic [DNA] makeup to include a particular gene or to remove (edit) genes associated with disease. They then turn around and coin it's smoke and mirror perspective "Hormonal Obesity Theory (HOT)". Like conspiracies are no theory, neither is hormonal obesity. The mind drone-mind controller, fatigue puppet and imposter Lieutenant General Mark Phillip Hertling (contrived name) is a spin doctor for COINTELPRO.

  26. Awfully bold of someone employed by the US armed forces talking about national security threats. The US army is the biggest threat to every country on plant earth.

  27. So millions of obese Americans can't join their army to fight and die in wars for fossil fuels so that millions of other lazy slobs can't fill up their gas guzzling vehicles that allow them to get super size meals at the drive-thru, and die of massive heart attacks. What a tragedy.

  28. So they want your kids all healthy and fit to die or get mutilated somewhere in a war nobody asked for, except 1% of those who would never send their kids to war..

  29. Perhaps the US should stop their illegal and unconstitutional wars of aggression over fraudulent reasons? Oh, wait! We can't. Israel controls us, so we MUST do what Israel says.

  30. Other day i wanted to buy a fruit juice and i could not find a single juice that have less than 10 grams of sugar in 100 ml of juice.

  31. The food in the US is abysmal….don’t need scientific research… food industry controls FDA. Foreigners joke about the food in the US. Keep eating 👍

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