Too Fat to Fight? Obesity, Bio-Politics and the Militarization of Children’s Bodies

Burridge, Joseph and Mcsorley, Kevin (2015). Too Fat to Fight? Obesity, Bio-Politics and the Militarization of Children’s Bodies. In: Mcsorley, Kevin ed. War and the Body: Militarisation, Practice and Experience. War, Politics and Experience. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 62–77.



On the 13th December 2010 US President Barack Obama signed into law a piece of legislation commonly referred to as the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. The law had passed a vote in the House of Representatives eleven days earlier, with near unanimous bipartisan support, and had been designed to, among other things, move towards provision of more healthy food for school children across the entire United States via establishing higher nutritional standards through a revised National School Food Lunch Program. One prominent organisation that lobbied strongly for this legislation, garnering significant media attention (BBC 2010, Shalikashvili and Shelton 2010), was Mission: Readiness. This campaign group, populated largely by retired senior members of the US military, addresses a range of issues connected with children, but in this case directly addressed itself to their food consumption, its impact upon rates of obesity, and the consequences that they argued this was having upon American military recruitment. Specifically, Mission: Readiness’ contributions to the debate used an anticipatory logic, and were addressed to an alleged need to do something about American children’s bodies because, increasingly, too many such bodies were considered at risk of becoming ‘Too Fat To Fight’ – the title of one of the organisation’s reports (Mission: Readiness 2010) and this chapter.

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