US Military to Cut Out Fast Food On Afghan Military Bases

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The US Military has decided to eliminate fast food chain restaurants from military bases in Afghanistan, including Burger King, Pizza Hut, TGI Fridays, Orange Julius, and Dairy Queen. In Kandahar Airfield, the outlets are set out as part of a “Boardwalk” for soldiers during off hours.

The reasoning is not due to health concerns of fast food among our soldiers. The US Military says that the restaurants take up valuable resources like water, power, flight, and convoy space and that cutting back on non-essentials is a key component of an efficient military operation.

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Although the decision was not based on soldier nutrition, there could be both positive and negative health effects in the movement.

Among the negative, fast food such as Burger King can bring the “comfort” foods of home to a very scary environment, possibly helping soldiers adapt better to their surroundings. A recent study in the January issue of the American Journal of Public Health, combat-deployed men and women were at increased risk for new-onset depression. A survey found that a new diagnosis of depression among men was 6% and for women was 16% of the 40,000 members who completed the survey.

Of course the positive of removing fast food options include avoidance of such long-term effects of a diet high in fat, salt, and calories, such as increased risk of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. One could argue that those effects occur over the long-term, so that those deployed overseas would actually be at less risk for developing negative health effects than those who eat at fast-food operations every day in the civilian US. However, a recent study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that even short term exposure to nutrients such as saturated fat and cholesterol have lasting negative health effects, such as inflammation and oxidative stress.

Soldiers will not be completely without some favorites. Those in need of “comfort food” will still have the option of the Chef’s Short Order section at dining halls where burgers and fried fish are free and available in abundance. Some other stores, such as Canada’s Tim Horton’s outlet which sells coffee and doughnuts, will also stay on.

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